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eBay software fraudsters pay $100,000

Traders claim they didn't realise they were selling counterfeit versions of Symantec's security software

Two eBay traders have admitted to selling unauthorised copies of Symantec's Norton antivirus software, and have handed over a total of $100,000 (£52,000) to Symantec.

Kevin Liu and G.T. Tian admitted in a California court to infringing copyright and trademarks of Norton pcAnywhere, Norton SystemWorks 2005 Premier, and Norton Ghost. Resident in New Jersey, Liu and Tian used various eBay user identities to sell the software between October and December 2005.

The lawsuit was brought against the pair by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), a digital industry trade association that pursues alleged intellectual property infringements.

Liu and Tian were among the first people sued by SIIA under its Auction Litigation Program, which monitors popular online auction sites such as eBay. The programme aims to identify individuals or groups selling unauthorised copies of software and prosecute them on behalf of SIIA's member companies, which include Symantec.

The two traders completed over 8,000 auctions on eBay over two years. The defendants sold the software, which had a retail price of more than $750,000, for approximately $123,000.

Liu and Tian claimed they had no knowledge the software was counterfeit, and undertook not to sell any more unauthorised copies of software. They also provided SIIA with records identifying their customers and suppliers of the software.

"If I had known that SIIA was checking eBay for software piracy, and if I had known the software was pirated and that I'd have to pay such a high fine, I would have never sold the pirated software to begin with," said defendant Kevin Liu.

The traders acquired their product from seemingly legal sources, SIIA believes. It will be pursuing these sources through the courts.