Microsoft has settled with three Colorado area resellers that the software giant had accused of piracy.
The settlements, totalling $400,000, were made with 3B Technologies, NetVision Inc. and Gateway USA, which has no connection with publicly traded PC maker Gateway.
Microsoft filed suit against Gateway USA alleging the company's distribution of counterfeit end-user licence agreements in a suit filed in US District Court in 1999. Microsoft sued 3B Technologies and NetVision last year alleging that they distributed counterfeit software.
All three companies have consented to a permanent injunction prohibiting future infringement of Microsoft's copyright and trademark rights in addition to the monetary settlement. Gateway USA paid the bulk of the settlement, $300,000. NetVision's share was $65,000 and 3B's, $35,000.
Microsoft corporate attorney Brien Jacobsen said: "Not only does it confuse customers by providing them with lower quality products, but it undermines the entire distribution channel and software industry."
The Business Software Alliance estimates that counterfeit business software led to a $3.2bn loss in US retail sales in 1999. The group also said that one in four software applications in use was not properly purchased or licensed.
Microsoft general manager Scott Johnson said the company recognises the importance of protecting consumers and resellers from the risk of software piracy. "Customers have a right to expect that they are receiving genuine Microsoft products," he said.
Because software is considered intellectual property, it is licensed by the manufacturer to the consumer. Microsoft licence agreements allow individuals to use the software on a computer and to make one backup. Other licences are needed to load the software on more than one computer, for example, in an office.
None of the three companies could be reached for comment.
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