Australian Microsoft partner, PC Case Gear, has agreed to pay the software giant $250,000 in damages as part of an out of court settlement over copyright infringement.
The online retailer, which is a Microsoft original equipment manufacturer (OEM) reseller, had sourced up to 4,000 Microsoft Windows 7 Certificates of Authenticity (COAs) – belonging to the Microsoft Authorised Refurbisher Program (MAR) – from an unauthorised third party.
The product keys from the certificates, which PC Case Gear had acquired over a 12-month period, were used to install Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium on new personal computers.
MAR COAs and product keys are only licensed for use by authorised refurbishers in the MAR program to install Windows on refurbished second-hand machines for resale.
System builders are not able to legally acquire the certificates as stand-alone items to license the installation of Windows on new PCs.
According to Microsoft Australia, PC Case Gear has cooperated with the case and, as its agreement to cough up hundreds of thousands of dollars in an out of course settlement indicates, it is willing to resolve the issue.
Despite the legal proceedings, the online reseller remains a Microsoft partner, and both parties consider the matter resolved.
“The fact that PC Case Gear obtained a significant number of MAR COAs from an unauthorised party compromised the integrity of Microsoft’s distribution channels and had a serious effect on other system builders who obtained genuine Microsoft software from Microsoft’s authorised distributors,” A Microsoft Australia representative said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has also received a judgement in its favour over a case against Mount IT, trading as AV2PC, after it was accused of infringing Microsoft’s copyright by installing unlicensed copies of the Windows 7 operating system onto new PCs.
According to Microsoft, AV2PC installed the copies using product keys that were printed onto counterfeit Certificate of Authenticity labels.
“These two results underpin the fact that Microsoft is serious about protecting its intellectual property as well as protecting its customers from the security risks involved in purchasing Microsoft software from unauthorised sources,” said Microsoft Australia senior attorney, Clayton Noble.
The cases come a little over three months after Microsoft Australia reached out of court set settlements with a number of local resellers, including Software Oz, Bytestech Computers, and PC-TEK, for selling unauthorised products and infringing copyright.
In those cases, Easy Peas, trading as Software Oz, along with its director, agreed to pay $300,000 in damages for infringing Microsoft’s copyright by selling unauthorised copies of its software products and product keys, and PC-TEK agreed to pay $25,000 in its out of court settlement.