"The threat posed by these software pirates to users and the safety of their personal and financial online information cannot be overstated," said Scott Minden, director of legal affairs at Symantec, in a written statement. "Counterfeit software might not work properly and damage a user's machine, or it can be loaded with identity theft programs. Counterfeit software also may not be able to receive automatic updates and as a result leave the user vulnerable to new online threats. These software pirates were moving large quantities of counterfeit product and, as a result, numerous unsuspecting users are now at risk for having their information stolen or lost."
A study released by industry analyst firm IDC this week says 35% of all software installed on personal computers around the globe last year was pirated. That amounts to a worldwide loss of $40 billion -- a 15% increase from 2005 to 2006.
Symantec said it sued the following businesses, which are located in various states or Canada: Acortech, (California); mPlus, (California); Logical Plus, (New York); SoftwareOutlets.com, (Florida); Rowcal Distribution, (California); Global Impact, Inc., (Florida); Directron.com, (Texas), and eDirect Software, (Canada). The suits were all were filed at the U.S. District Court level in California,
Symantec alleges that the businesses engaged in trademark infringement, copyright infringement, fraud, unfair competition, trafficking in counterfeit labels and documentation, and false advertising. The company also has asked for a jury trial in each case and is seeking damages in profits from each entity ranging from $4 million to $10 million in each claim.
The company said in a release that the companies sold counterfeit versions of Norton SystemWorks, Norton AntiVirus, Norton Internet Security, pcAnywhere, and Symantec AntiVirus Small Business Edition. Symantec also charges that most of the sales were conducted online, with the disks delivered in single, blank, white sleeves to unwitting customers, with no documentation, directions, labeled packaging, or activation code information.
In addition to damages, Symantec is asking for a permanent injunction against all of the businesses from conducting further sales of unauthorized Symantec products and to turn over all existing inventory of the counterfeit Symantec software.