Microsoft has filed eight lawsuits against firms that allegedly sold counterfeit copies of its Windows and Office software using eBay auctions.
The eight defendants are located in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York and Washington. Microsoft identified seven of the defendants through submissions to the company's Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program, an online validation tool for customers to determine whether their software is genuine.
Complaints were also made about some of the defendants to the company's anti-piracy hotline, 1-800-RU-LEGIT (785-3448).
"Online auction sites are an excellent way for people from around the world to buy and sell goods," said Matt Lundy, attorney at Microsoft. "We strongly believe in the convenience and global reach of the virtual marketplace. Unfortunately, a number of online sellers are undermining trust in the system by using the Internet to hawk illegal products to unsuspecting consumers. Microsoft is committed to protecting our customers and technology partners from unscrupulous sellers through customer education and enforcement in appropriate cases. By filing these lawsuits, we hope that auction purchasers will understand that software offers are not always what they appear to be."
Microsoft said it routinely monitors auction sites to identify counterfeit software offerings adding that it asks auction sites such as eBay to shut down offerings of counterfeit software. In 2005, the company requested takedowns of almost 50,000 auctions sites offering pirated software.
John Ball, general manager for the U.S. System Builders Partner Group at Microsoft, said: "The lawsuits announced today allege these sellers have willfully violated the law. We hope these legal actions send a strong message to people thinking of selling counterfeit software on online auction sites that it is not worth the risk."
According to the Business Software Alliance, 21 percent of all software in the United States is pirated.