Microsoft sues “prolific distributor” of pirated Office and Windows software

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Microsoft has filed a lawsuit against a “prolific distributor of counterfeit Microsoft software,” alleging that a Texas man posted and sold pirated Office, Windows and other products online.

According to the lawsuit, filed Thursday in US District Court in Austin, Edgar E. Gamble is “the central figure in a widespread program to distribute counterfeit, pirated and unauthorized Microsoft software and components.” The lawsuit alleges that Gamble, through a series of shell companies, sold product activation keys used to install Microsoft programs that were “decoupled” from the original software.

Court documents show Microsoft was made aware of Gamble’s alleged “scheme” through an action taken in 2016 against a distributor of these decoupled product keys. The distributor testified that one of Gamble’s companies was among its main suppliers.

The lawsuit cites bank documents showing that the distributor paid one of Gamble’s companies around $ 1.5 million between May 2015 and July 2016. More than half of those funds, the distributor said, were intended for decoupled product keys, mainly for Office 2013, Office 2016 and Windows 7, according to court documents.

Based on this information, Microsoft investigators purchased pirated software from Gamble on four occasions between March 2017 and January 2018. In each case, investigators corresponded directly with Gamble and received links to download sites from counterfeit software. In some cases, investigators received physical certificates of authenticity that were not actually affixed to any Microsoft product.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the lawsuit, Microsoft alleges that Gamble’s actions violated laws relating to copyright infringement, fraud, false advertising and more. In addition to damages from alleged fraudulent sales, the tech giant is asking the court to ban Gamble from continuing to sell unauthorized Microsoft software, product keys and certificates of authenticity. Microsoft is also seeking an order for the “seizure” of any pirated copies of its software or other material protected by Microsoft’s copyright.

In recent years, Microsoft has filed several lawsuits against individuals or groups accused of pirating its software and products. Microsoft explained in the lawsuit why it has cracked down on these groups lately.

Software makers like Microsoft “lose billions of dollars in annual revenue from software piracy,” according to the lawsuit. Unauthorized software lacks quality control, which means consumers could be exposed to security threats. And generally, these products are sold at greatly reduced prices.

“The uneven playing field hurts honest companies that try to compete fairly,” Microsoft wrote in the lawsuit.

Here’s Microsoft’s full complaint:

Microsoft vs. Gamble through Nat Levy on Scribd


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