Charges against directors of a former Microsoft VAR for allegedly selling counterfeit software have been thrown out of court.
Hampshire-based reseller Protocol Solutions, which went into receivership in February 2001, supplied software based on Microsoft Office 97 to Special Branch and other police forces between June and December 1999 (CRN, 28 February 2001).
The directors at the company, Stephen Heagren, Geoffrey Skinner and Jacqueline Smith, were accused of supplying pirated software, and charged under Section 1 of the Trades Description Act 1968.
But last week at Blackfriars Crown Court in London, the judge stayed the prosecution, saying it was not in the public interest to continue.
The decision prompted Microsoft to repeat its calls for resellers to buy from authorised distributors. There is no suggestion that Protocol deliberately sold counterfeit software.
Caroline Smith, channel programmes manager for Microsoft's UK anti-piracy team, could not comment on the case, but said: "We want to protect our VARs that sell genuine products. If you buy from authorised distributors there is no risk of being caught with illegal products."
The firm's authorised UK distributors are Computer 2000, Ingram Micro, Ideal Hardware, Gem, Actebis and Entatech. But Alex Tatham, vice-president global software at Bell Microproducts, said there were unauthorised distributors selling Microsoft software legitimately.
"There are unauthorised distributors selling legitimate software, because we sell it to them and they resell it. But the only way VARs can be sure software is legal is if they buy it from an authorised distributor," he said.
"Reseller partners should be careful because they could end up in jail."
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