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Microsoft sinks software pirate

Tash Shifrin

Microsoft has declared a victory in its battle against software pirates, after a UK software dealer trading in unlicensed software was driven out of business.

Software dealer William Ling, who has traded more than £3.5m of counterfeit and unlicensed Microsoft software over the past five years, has shut down operations.

Ling, owner of Oyster Computers, was arrested by the Metropolitan Police in February 2003, after Microsoft received an anonymous telephone call from a member of the public.

He was later charged with offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 for knowingly dealing in counterfeit and unlicensed Microsoft products. Ling pleaded guilty and in May 2005 was forced to pay out £10,000.

But he resumed trading within two months, sparking a £12m civil damages claim by Microsoft. Ling agreed to pay “substantial sums” and has undertaken not to sell counterfeit Microsoft software in future, the company said.

The case is part of Microsoft’s “Keep IT Real” anti-piracy initiative. Other software firms have also stepped up anti-piracy action this month, with a major drive against counterfeit products launched in the US by the Software and Information Industry Association, which is targeting online auction sites.

In the UK, the Business Software Alliance is urging businesses to review their software licensing as part of its annual audit return campaign.


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