Microsoft sues controversial system assembler

The bizarre chain of events that unfolded around the alleged theft of notebook computers valued at AU$1 million last March continued today, with Microsoft revealing it is seeking damages for software piracy against a system assembler embroiled in the matter.

The bizarre chain of events that unfolded around the alleged theft of notebook computers valued at AU$1 million last March continued today, with Microsoft revealing it is seeking damages for software piracy against a system assembler embroiled in the matter.

Microsoft released a statement on Friday claiming that individuals involved with the system assembler, PC-Club Australia, including its managing director, David Lee, had admitted in a Federal Court in NSW to selling unlicensed computer software.

According to Microsoft senior counsel, Vanessa Hutley, Lee and two associates, My My Lee and Kane Fang, conceded that they had infringed upon Microsoft's trademarks and copyright by using counterfeit software authenticity certificates to supply Microsoft Windows XP pre-loaded on over 2,000 computers.

Microsoft is seeking an undisclosed amount of damages from PC-Club and a court injunction against the company to stop further alleged infringements of its trademarks and copyrights.

It is not the first time that PC-Club's activities have come under scrutiny.

Lee has faced tough questions from Hyundai's authorised local brand licensor, Hyundai Digital, in April shortly after police began investigating an incident in which it was alleged that armed assailants stole 680 notebook computers bearing Hyundai ImageQuest markings.

According to police reports at the time, two men intercepted the consignment while it was being transported from a Bankstown warehouse to a Wetherill Park address, forcing the driver to hand over control of the vehicle at gun point.

Shortly after the incident, Hyundai International -- a company jockeying to take Hyundai Digital's place in the local market -- raised doubts about the authenticity of the notebook computers alleged to have been stolen in the incident.

At the time, Edward Bong, then Hyundai International's operations manager, raised some doubts about the authenticity of serial numbers attached to the consignment after they appeared in public statement issued by NSW Police.

Bong warned that parallel import stocks of Hyundai notebooks were "causing confusion in the market" and criticised Hyundai Digital.

A short time later, Ed Reynolds, then Chairman of Hyundai Digital's parent company Jackar Holdings, conceded that there were some doubts as to whether PC-Club had imported the notebooks into Australia through proper channels.

"We know they haven't come through our books, so where they've come form at this point in time we don't know -- we're trying to find out," said Reynolds at the time.

A spokesperson for Jackar Holdings said that PC-Club had never provided Hyundai Digital with a satisfactory explanation as to how the notebook's ended up in the Australian market.

"Nothing about the situation made sense," said the spokesperson.

The spokesperson added that Hyundai Digital terminated its business agreement with PC-Club shortly after the matter arose.

A spokesperson for Microsoft today said the company was reserving further comment on the case until after the judge presiding over the matter, Justice Conti, handed down his findings on the matter which are expected early next year.

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