Small businesses have been urged to check the authenticity of their software, following the prosecution of a dealer in the South of England for supplying £3.5m worth of fake Microsoft products.
William Ling, proprietor of Oyster Computers in New Malden, Surrey, agreed an out of court settlement with Microsoft following a police investigation.
Microsoft said Ling had sold counterfeit copies of Windows 2000 and Microsoft Office worth £12m if sold at full price over a period of five years. About half of the software went to small businesses.
Michala Alexander, head of Microsoft’s anti-piracy programme in the UK, said Microsoft was working through documents seized by the police and would write to customers of Oyster Computers.
She said Microsoft would not take action against organisations that had unwittingly bought counterfeit products.
“We have no interest in tackling customers in any way shape or form who have been caught by counterfeit products. We are only interested in dealing with illegal traders,” she said.
Microsoft is offering to replace software for customers who can show they were genuinely misled, either free of charge, or at a discounted cost.
Ling was prosecuted in May 2005, and ordered to pay £10,000 after pleading guilty under the Trade Marks Act 1994.
Microsoft brought a civil action against him two months later when it emerged he was continuing to supply counterfeit software.
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