Microsoft cracks yet another piracy scam

In yet another message to the channel about the perils of piracy, Microsoft has executed a search and seize order against a local dealer, Computer Interchange (known as 'NCI') following a detailed investigation into the company's chain of stores in Sydney and Newcastle.

Late last month, Microsoft reported to the Federal Court that, following reports from a number of sources, it had seized what it believed to be a number of counterfeit products including Microsoft Mice, Windows 95 CD ROMs and copied manuals. Microsoft also claimed that one of the counterfeit products sold by NCI was a full packaged version of Microsoft Office Pro 97.

On August 21, Microsoft applied for and was granted the search and seize order to enter the premises of NCI's warehouse and corporate headquarters in the Sydney suburb of Leichhardt and to remove Microsoft products that appeared to be counterfeit, together with related business records.

In court, Damien Tudehope of O'Hara & Company Solicitors, appearing for NCI, contended that his clients were "innocent", and further contended that if the Microsoft products were counterfeit, NCI was not aware of that fact. NCI consented to interlocutory orders restraining infringements by NCI of Microsoft's copyrights and trade marks until the case goes to trial. A trial is unlikely to occur this year.

In a bid to cover up the seizure and resultant publicity, NCI approached the Federal Court to prevent Microsoft from reporting the recent legal action to the media. However, the Federal Court's Justice Madgwick, on hearing the case earlier this month, dismissed it and ordered NCI to pay Microsoft's costs relating to it.

Reacting to the decision, Ron Eckstrom, the corporate attorney for Microsoft's South Asia Pacific region, reiterated Microsoft's hard-line stance on software pirates. He said that Microsoft's goals in any enforcement action are to protect its own copyright as well as support the legitimate reseller community.

"We believe that unless decisive action is taken against retailers that continue to deal in illegal software products, some dealers will continue to sell counterfeit products in the retail market.

"This in turn makes it difficult for local dealers of legal product to compete," he claimed