As part of its fight against software piracy, Microsoft has begun legal proceedings against eight resellers for allegedly buying and selling fake and used Certificate of Authenticity labels.
The lawsuits, which allege copyright and trademark infringement, follow a 12-month investigation by Microsoft. As part of the investigation, the company said it had bought Certificate of Authenticity labels and products bearing the labels.
Microsoft uses the labels to identify its products as genuine. Each rectangular-shaped label is unique and belongs with the software product it was created to accompany and authenticate. For example, Windows-preloaded PCs have the label fixed to the computer, while packaged software has the label on the box. The label includes a product key code and is designed to prevent counterfeiting.
According to Microsoft, some resellers abuse the system to sell pirated software as genuine. In its investigation, the company found that most misused Certificate of Authenticity labels were authentic but did not belong with the products they were sold with.
Microsoft alleges that resellers separated labels from PCs after they had been sold and re-used them on systems loaded with pirated copies of Windows. The company also said that resellers tried to sell the labels separate from the software to make more money.
The action is part of Microsoft's crackdown on software piracy, which the company said cut into its earnings. Nearly 36% of all software worldwide is pirated, according to industry group the Business Software Alliance.
Worldwide, 96% of Microsoft software is sold by partners. Microsoft said its legal action was also meant to protect resellers that did follow the rules.
Microsoft said it sued resellers for copyright and trademark infringement only if they continued their alleged abuse after being contacted by the company.
The eight resellers Microsoft is sueing are all based in the US.
Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service