No soft option for dealer
A New Malden man has been banned from selling Microsoft software after 97 per cent of the Microsoft stock he had was found to be counterfeit.
Under Microsoft's ‘Keep IT Real initiative’, the company's anti piracy team said it had caught William Ling, a software dealer who has traded counterfeit and unlicensed Microsoft software for the past five years.
He was first arrested by the Metropolitan Police in February 2003 after Microsoft received an anonymous telephone call from a member of the public. His premises, Oyster Computers in New Malden, Kingston-upon-Thames were searched and documents were seized by the police.
They showed that of a total 1296 sales of Microsoft software, all but 43 had been counterfeit or unlicensed products amounting to £3.5 million.
Michala Alexander, head of Microsoft’s anti-piracy programme in the UK, said counterfeit software found at the premises included Office XP, Windows 2000 Pro, Office 2000 Prof and Office 2003.
Ling was subsequently charged with a number of offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 for knowingly dealing in counterfeit and unlicensed Microsoft products. He pleaded guilty and in May 2005 was made to pay £10,000.
However within two months he resumed trading in counterfeit and unlicensed products. As a result, Microsoft launched a civil damages claim for £12 million, the amount of revenue lost as a result of Ling’s illegal trading.
In an out of court settlement, Ling has agreed to pay Microsoft substantial sums and has given an undertaking not to sell counterfeit Microsoft software in the future.
Michala Alexander said: "Mr Ling’s case should send a message to others who promote this illegal activity. Microsoft will always protect honest resellers an d consumers by challenging those who persist in dealing with non-genuine or illegal software."
She also told Computeractive that Ling not only sold software but built computers as well. She said it was not known if these PCs had been preloaded with software and if they had if any of this had been fake. She advised Ling's customers to check to see if they had been sold counterfeit software.
She said a Microsoft website gives advice on how to tell if software is fake and users can also use Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) which flags up if Windows software is genuine or not.
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