Microsoft Takes Legal Action Against US Software Pirate

August 2019

Microsoft rarely litigates nowadays, but recently, it has successfully obtained a permanent injunction against US companies Fame 1, Inc. and Corp IT Group, Inc., in the Central District of California court, for a host of alleged contraventions related to its Intellectual Property. 

Microsoft Corporation v. Fame 1 Computers, Inc (Case No. 2:17-cv-04464-TJH-JCx) 

The injunction, awarded on 30th of May 2019, requires that Fame 1 and Corp IT Group; associated organizations that provide IT and telecoms solutions in California, refrain from copying, reproducing, counterfeiting any of its software, or misleadingly publicizing that any illicit activity related to its software is authorized by Microsoft. This includes using its trademarks to imply validity of the unlicensed software. 

In short: stop selling fake software & promoting it as genuine!

The dispute stems from a complaint (Case No. 2:17-cv-04464) filed by Microsoft in the same court with ongoing action in 2017 and 2018 which sues for: 

“…copyright infringement, trademark infringement, false advertising activities, false designation of origin, false description and representation of visual designs, imposition of a constructive trust, and an accounting of Defendant’s ill-gotten gains.” 

Allegations continue with assertions that Fame 1 pirated hundreds of copies of unlicensed Microsoft software using unauthorized license keys and keys stolen from its supply chain. These unlocked licenses were then distributed to unaware customers with Microsoft further alleging that software piracy was a “systematic” part of Fame 1’s business operations. If true, potentially every Fame 1 & Corp IT Group customer could be running unlicensed software. 

Naturally evidence is absolutely central to any accusation of wrong-doing, which Microsoft claims to have obtained via its “Product Activation Process” that occurs when customers “voluntarily transmit their product keys and other technical information about their device to the activation servers”. Discovered evidence suggests more than 1700 attempted activations, & hundreds of successful activations of Microsoft Office, Windows Pro, Windows Server and Project software – all from the same IP address! 

Whilst Microsoft pursues extensive damages against Fame 1 and Corp IT Group, affected customers will be counting the costs of running unlicensed software – albeit inadvertently, as all licenses will need to be thoroughly analysed for compliance. Unfortunately, any unlicensed software must be repurchased via authorized and certified IT channel partners at full price, with little hope of recouping any costs.