Microsoft has prosecuted the first UK reseller through its Keep IT Real anti-piracy campaign, and has revealed that more cases are in the pipeline.
William Ling, owner of Kent-based Oyster Computers, was found guilty of knowingly selling counterfeit and unlicensed OEM software, and initially fined £10,000 under the Trade Marks Act 1994 last May.
However, two months after Ling’s initial prosecution, Microsoft launched a £12m civil case for damages against him following its discovery that Oyster Computers had resumed trading counterfeit and unlicensed Microsoft software. Ling recently agreed to an out-of-court settlement, and the firm has now ceased trading.
Michala Alexander, head of anti-piracy at Microsoft, told CRN that documents seized by police showed Ling had traded £3.5m worth of counterfeit and unlicensed Microsoft software over a five-year period.
“Piracy has a very negative effect on our legitimate VARs because they lose out every time a counterfeit sale is made,” she said. “The more that VARs help us to identify piracy, the more we can reduce it.”
Paul Ramsden, deputy chief executive at the Trading Standards Institute, said: “This case represents a small but vital step in tackling software piracy.”
Jon Atherton, vice-president of Microsoft distributor Enta Group, told CRN: “In the past year, Microsoft has really stepped up its anti-piracy drive, and I commend this. We are already beginning to see a positive impact on our sales.”
According to internal Microsoft figures, Keep IT Real has reduced the piracy rate of Windows XP from 16.7 per cent to 15.5 per cent of sales since its launch in February.
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