Sydney reseller forced to pay for counterfeiting

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Western Sydney computer reseller Big Ben Computer has paid $55,000 compensation to Microsoft Australia after being sued in the Federal Court for hard-loading unlicensed copies of Microsoft Windows software onto PCs.

Western Sydney computer reseller Big Ben Computer has paid $55,000 compensation to Microsoft Australia after being sued in the Federal Court for hard-loading unlicensed copies of Microsoft Windows software onto PCs.

It is the second time the reseller had been caught using unlicensed products. In February 2001, the company reached a settlement with Microsoft for copyright violation and paid $10,000 in damages.

The software giant said it began re-investigating the company in July 2001. In December, evidence was obtained of an illegal copy of Windows being hard loaded onto a PC. 'Civil proceedings were filed in July 2002 and continued with a trial date set for October 2003. However, Big Ben Computer elected to settle the matter before the trial,' a Microsoft statement said.

Ben Tan, manager at Big Ben Computer, claimed the company chose not to fight the matter any further due to skyrocketing legal costs. 'We agreed to pay because the legal costs are too high,' he said, adding that over the past one-and-a-half years, the company had spent over $100,000 fighting the software giant. He said it could have cost around $250,000 to continue 'to the end.'

'I cannot spend more money, I don't have the money to fight with them [Microsoft],' he said.

Chris Woodforde, Microsoft's law and corporate affairs spokesperson, said the company wants all consumers to be confident that they are receiving genuine product. 'Microsoft continues to invest in new, innovative anti-counterfeiting security technologies that will make it harder for software pirates to copy our products. We also regularly monitor sales and distribution networks to ensure that consumers are not spending good money on bad software.

'It's easy to spot a fake if you know how. Recognising and looking out for anti-counterfeiting security measures, such as Certificate of Authenticity and the edge-to-edge hologram on the packaging, will protect you from acquiring illegal products,' he said.

He added in a statement that counterfeit products are often defective and missing valuable codes that can impact the security of PCs. Consumers who mistakenly acquire pirated products are also ineligible for technical product support and software upgrades, he said.

Although unrelated, Big Ben was the victim of a robbery at gun and knife point by four men on August 15. At the time, Tan alleged that during the 90 minute robbery, the thieves escaped with more than $80,000 worth of computer equipment including laptops, PCs, LCD screen and components.

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