The Business Software Alliance (BSA) has stung a safety specialist firm for almost £100,000 following a tip-off over its alleged use of unlicensed software.
First Choice Facilities was forced to pay the anti-piracy body £18,000 as part of a settlement, and stump up a further £81,000 in licence costs to address the shortfall, after being found with unlicensed Adobe, Autodesk, Microsoft and Symantec products.
The Isleworth-based firm claimed it had inherited the problem after an acquisition.
Julian Swan, director of compliance marketing EMEA at the BSA, warned UK firms to be on their guard, stressing that the tip came from a whistleblower.
"It only takes one disgruntled employee to place a company at the centre of a legal battle," he said.
The BSA recently came under attack by others in the software asset management space for being an "attack dog" for vendors and not focusing enough on the positive aspects of licence management.
However, Swan said it is often in firms' own interests to get their licensing houses in order.
"Help is always at hand – as long as they seek it at the earliest possible opportunity," he said. "In fact they might even find they can save money in the long term by helping to identify duplications and surplus licences."
Michala Wardell, chair of the BSA UK Committee, said firms have no excuse if they are underlicensed in the wake of an acquisition.
"As an acquiring company, finding out, when it is too late, that you did not run the necessary checks and inadvertently infringed intellectual property rights can result in hefty damages and substantial, unforeseen costs to buy the very software licences you should have bought in the first place," she said.
"As we continue to educate businesses on the risks of inheriting unlicensed software through a merger and acquisition, businesses will struggle to cite ignorance as a mitigating factor and those found with unlicensed software could be liable to pay greater sums of money in damages."
Security firm set to become part of acquisitive Shearwater Group
Distributor merges three northern sites into one new hub in Warrington
Activist investor puts forward five director candidates as turmoil continues at security giant
Nima Green asks what is driving public cloud uptake in Germany