Microsoft sues Chinese electronics firms for software piracy

Lawsuit alleges vendors allowed PCs installed with pirated software to be sold at stores

Microsoft has filed lawsuits against two Chinese electronics retail chains for allegedly allowing computers installed with pirated Windows and Office products to be sold at their stores.

The software giant said it filed the lawsuits against Gome Electrical Appliances and Buynow last week in separate courts located in Beijing and Shanghai.

A Gome store in Shanghai had sold PCs with unlicensed versions of Windows and Office, according to Microsoft. In Beijing, two vendors at a PC market operated by Buynow had also sold PCs installed with pirated products, the company alleged.

Microsoft did not specify how much it is seeking in damages. It is demanding in the lawsuits that both Gome and Buynow compensate Microsoft's losses and cease selling PCs with the pirated products.

Gome declined to comment on the lawsuit. Buynow said in a statement that the company is committed to protecting intellectual property rights, and already takes steps to ensure its vendors do not violate them. In this case, Microsoft failed to understand Buynow's procedures, and rashly filed a lawsuit, the company said.

The lawsuits mark the latest legal action Microsoft has taken to try and stop vendors in the country from selling pirated versions of its software. About 78 percent of software installed on China's PCs is pirated, according to a 2010 report from the Business Software Alliance.

Microsoft said it has made repeated attempts to resolve the problems with Gome and Buynow, but that pirated versions of its products continue to be sold at their stores. The company said it hoped the lawsuits would serve as a warning to other PC vendors involved in software piracy.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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