A midlands-based reseller has agreed to pay Microsoft a six-figure sum after being caught selling pirated software. PC builder Stone Computers, also known as the OE Group, claimed it was duped into believing the copies of Windows 98 it was selling were genuine.
The company settled with Microsoft out of court, but the exact amount of the settlement is confidential, explained Julia Phillpot, anti-piracy manager for Microsoft.
"OE Group is a prime example of an organisation that believed the grey channel represented no risk, but this was not the case. It has not only affected them financially but also possibly impacted their image and reputation," she said.
This type of activity not only has an effect on Microsoft but on the industry as a whole, she claimed, "which is why we advise channel members to buy products from a reputable and recommended distributor".
"Often resellers think they can be more competitive in price with grey market products, but they can either knowingly or unknowingly be duped into selling counterfeit goods and get themselves and their customers in serious trouble," she explained.
James Bird, managing director of Stone Computers, said in a statement: "Other resellers should not be fooled by reassurances from traders who are not authorised distributors, selling what they claim to be legitimate software.
"Not only do you incur the cost of buying a potentially illegal product, but also the legal costs and compensation to Microsoft."
Richard Saunders, chairman of the Business Software Alliance's UK committee, said the channel should be pleased with the outcome. "The positive thing about this is that both Microsoft and the OE Group are both being very proactive about this case to warn other members of the channel not to fall into the same trap," he said.
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