Britons convicted of software piracy

Two UK resellers face up to ten years in jail for selling counterfeit Microsoft software

Two British men have been found guilty of selling counterfeit Microsoft software.

The UK resellers pleaded guilty to offences relating to the supply of illegal Windows software. The judge has delayed sentencing in both cases until reports are obtained on the defendants -- but each could face a jail sentence of up ten years and an unlimited fine.

The convictions form part of Microsoft's moral crusade against software piracy. "Counterfeiting is a serious issue which significantly impacts customers, who are often duped by unscrupulous traders into buying illegal products which they are led to believe is legal and genuine," said Julia Phillpot, anti-piracy manager for Microsoft UK. "We...hope that this case will help to raise awareness of the massive problem counterfeiting represents to customers, the IT industry and the economy as a whole," she added.

In the first case, a seven-day trial at Harrow Crown Court found Paramjit Kaur Kanwal, sole director of UK Computer Distributors in Middlesex, and his secretary, Jasbir Singh Uppal, guilty of four offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 and an offence under the Copyright Designs and Patent Act 1998. The court heard how the business partners had resold counterfeit Microsoft software such as Microsoft Windows 98, Microsoft Windows NT Server and Microsoft Office Professional Edition. It also emerged that Microsoft had previously sued Uppal for selling pirate software, and issued a permanent injunction against him for further dealings in counterfeit Microsoft software.

Brent and Harrow Trading Standards Service had been investigating the case since a search warrant was issued for Kanwal's house in July 2000. "Counterfeit software is a serious crime to be involved in," said Winston Brooks, senior trading officer with Brent and Harrow Trading Standards.

In the second case, Christopher Bottley of Tonbridge in Kent, pleaded guilty to two charges under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 at Maidstone Crown Court. He was found guilty of supplying pirate editions of Windows 98 to a Bristol-based trader, from whom the counterfeit copies were retrieved.

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