Microsoft Corp. said Tuesday it filed a series of criminal and civil actions against alleged counterfeit dealers that auction software online.
The cases are against sellers who allegedly have misused their eBay Inc. or other auction-site accounts to sell counterfeit software to consumers and businesses. eBay couldn't be reached for comment.
The Redmond, Wash.-company said it warned the allege violators about infringing on copyright and trademarks prior to taking legal action. Warnings arrived in the form of cease-and-desist orders or removal of auctions by the online host.
Overall, Microsoft brought legal charges against 15 people in the United States, including Karon R. Gilbey doing business as 868ocean and ocean11s, Eileen Nguyen as Bigsavingstore, and Clifton Crouse as BiziDealz and ginuwine_dealz.
There also were 10 people in Germany, 10 in the Netherlands, five in France, and five in the United Kingdom. (A full list can be access here.)
Tips from consumers led Microsoft to many of the alleged infringers, the company said. The tips came through the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program.
The WGA helps consumers verify whether they have genuine Microsoft software, as well as receive product downloads, Windows updates and other special offers. Microsoft launched the initiative earlier this year to protect consumers and channel partners from the risks of counterfeit software through an increased focus on education, engineering and enforcement.
A recent IDC study reveals the chances of purchasing legally licensed Microsoft software on eBay is less than 50 percent.
In tests conducted by Microsoft of 115 copies of physical media purchased on eBay, 39 percent were counterfeit, and another 12 percent had software either counterfeit or tampered with.
Microsoft intervenes in about 50,000 eBay software auctions annually where people infringe on copyrights, the IDC study said.
The research firm suggests broader effects from buying software on an auction site could increase risk of exposure to viruses, worms and other damaging code like spyware and Trojan horses, the study said.
IDC estimates it cost more than $1,000 for a company to recover from one incident of malicious software on one workstation, and price for lost or compromised data can run into the tens of thousands of dollars per occurrence for many businesses.