Usually when Microsoft and court end up in the same sentence it often means that MS is getting sued by someone, such as in the recent Novel case. This time around though, Microsoft is doing the suing.
Of course, that’s nothing new and lawsuits filed by Microsoft happen all the time, but this one is certainly interesting. So why’s that?
Microsoft is suing a British electronics retailer, Comet, for allegedly selling pirated Windows discs to its consumers.
While this kind of activity is rather common for the rogue PC guy that builds machines out of his basement for his neighbors, friends and family, it is a little less expected when it turns out to be a reputable retailer.
According to the suit, the British chain sold 94,000 counterfeit copies of Vista and XP recovery discs.
They accused Comet of producing the copies at a factory in Hampshire and selling them as part of PC/laptop bundles at their store locations.
David Finn, the associate general counsel for Worldwide Anti-Piracy and Anti-Counterfeiting at Microsoft said customers ‘deserve better’ than this.
His exacts words were:
As detailed in the complaint filed today, Comet produced and sold thousands of counterfeit Windows CDs to unsuspecting customers in the United Kingdom.
Comet’s actions were unfair to customers. We expect better from retailers of Microsoft products — and our customers deserve better, too.
Don’t kid yourself though, Microsoft isn’t doing this just for the ‘customers’. The customers had Windows and it worked perfectly fine on their machines, they weren’t really affected.
Sure, they didn’t have a legal copy but it didn’t scar them for life.
Microsoft is doing this for Microsoft. Is that wrong and do I blame them? Not at all! Protecting your copyrights and products is very important, and if Microsoft lets one company like this slide then it opens the floodgates for would-be pirates everywhere at retail stores.
I personally wish that they’d just come out and say, “Comet’s actions are unfair to Microsoft. Piracy is a major problem that can hurt our fiscal achievements”. I understand that the PR-spin is to always say it is best for the customer though.
Again, don’t for a minute think that I am against Microsoft suing them if they really were just blatantly copying Windows discs. This is a serious matter, its just not one that directly affects most customers (at least in my humble opinion).
Comet was recently sold to electrical goods retailer Kesa Electricals PLC, although it is supposedly being purchased by private equity firm OpCapita LLP later this year.
A spokeswoman for Comet confirmed that this case had been launched against them in regards to claims about illegal creation of recovery discs.
Comet has sought legal advice to support its view that the recovery discs were for added protection for the customer and did not infringe on Microsoft’s intellectual property.
The idea here, at least from how I interpret it, is that Microsoft has stopped providing recovery discs for mass installations and so Comet made their own in order to better support customers, but the licenses are allegedly valid.
If they really do have valid licenses and are just making ‘back up’ discs than I don’t get what the issue is. Of course, I doubt it is really that simple at all, and there is probably more to the story.
What do you think of the case? Share your thoughts below.