Microsoft has reached an out-of-court settlement with Swindon-based software distributor Martcom Computer Solutions following a three-month investigation into alleged software piracy.
The investigation began last November after travel firm Saga contacted Microsoft, questioning the authenticity of software it purchased from London-based dealer Transputec Computers. The software turned out to be counterfeit and was traced back to Martcom. The investigation uncovered further counterfeit software.
The settlement comes three months after Transputec paid Microsoft undisclosed damages after admitting it inadvertently sold the counterfeit software.
Under the agreement, Martcom, which had advertised rock-bottom prices for Microsoft Office software via faxshots, has signed undertakings not to deal in counterfeits. It has also identified the supplier of the test purchase sample. The supplier is currently the subject of a long running separate legal action.
Mark Roberts, manager of the anti-piracy business unit for Microsoft UK, said: "More often than not Microsoft software passes through a long chain of companies, often through several countries. We are now working with each of these companies to try and ensure that we pursue our policy of eradicating software theft and ensuring that all organisations operate within the law.
"We are determined to take any action necessary against those who try to break the law and defraud both our channel and our customers."
BSA: firmer stance against software piracy
The BSA (Business Software Alliance) is stepping up its campaign against software piracy in Europe. Last year, European software theft cost developers around $3.5 billion (u2.1 billion) in lost revenues - the highest figure of pirated software in the industrialised world. The US and Canada together lose around $3 billion annually to piracy, while Asia/Pacific lose around $4 billion.
The BSA is to embark on an advertising campaign in an attempt to raise awareness of software theft further. It will also work closer with governments to enforce anti-piracy legislation. According to a recent study by auditing firm Price Waterhouse, European governments would increase their tax revenues by around $2 billion annually if software piracy were eradicated. As many as 87,900 new computer-related jobs would also be created, it claimed.
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