Microsoft accuses UK companies of software piracy

Two UK companies are facing legal action for allegedly selling counterfeit copies of Microsoft software

Two UK companies are facing the wrath of Microsoft's ongoing anti-piracy campaign, for allegedly selling counterfeit Microsoft products.

Microsoft has commenced legal proceedings against the directors of two Basingstoke-based companies -- Pacific Computers and Taran Microsystems -- for allegedly infringing its copyright and the Microsoft trademark. The claims forms were issued on 2 August.

Two directors of Pacific Computers, Marc Roach and Richard Donaldson, as well as two former directors and shareholders, Andrew Miles and Simon Miles, stand charged with allegedly selling counterfeit products including Microsoft Windows 98 OEM packs. Microsoft is investigating the full details of the company's dealings, but claims that the sales took place between July 2000 and February 2001.

Andrew and Simon Miles face additional charges for their alleged illegal activity at Taran Microsystems. Microsoft claims that it is aware of the company's directors selling counterfeit products including Microsoft Office 97 Licence packs, Microsoft Windows 98 OEM packs and Microsoft Office Professional 97.

In its ongoing crusade against software piracy, Microsoft is accusing the two companies of infringing the copyright of its licence documentation. It is also claiming infringement of the Microsoft trademark and passing-off. Injunctions have been requested against the Basingstoke companies and each of their directors.

Copyright infringement is a criminal offence under the Trade Descriptions Act, the Trademark Act and the Copyright Designs and Patent Act. A successful prosecution for the selling of counterfeit software could result in a £5,000 fine in a Magistrate Court, or a two-year jail sentence in a Crown Court.

But the Trading Standards office said that this particular case will be treated as a civil matter. "It's a matter for Microsoft, as the trademark holder, to take the case to court and seek damages," said a spokesman. Microsoft has launched an investigation into the suspected copyright breaches of Pacific Computers and Taran Microsystems. If the prosecution is successful, the companies could each face unlimited financial damages.

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