Microsoft files piracy suits against 5 Utah companies

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    By LINDSAY SKOUSEN

    Microsoft Corp. officials announced Tuesday that the company has filed software piracy lawsuits against five Utah computer software companies, including one in Orem.

    Officials from Microsoft Corp. were not available for comment. However, a Microsoft news release said four of the five lawsuits were being brought against the retailers that are accused of distributing counterfeit copies of Office Professional 97 and the Microsoft Windows 95 operating system.

    The fifth lawsuit is being brought against Light Speed Computers Inc., a retailer in Salt Lake City. It has been accused of installing Windows 98 and Office Professional 97 on hard drives it has sold.

    Computer Recyclers, the Orem store, is one of the four companies accused of distributing counterfeit software.

    Tim Bird, owner of Computer Recyclers, said he was not aware counterfeit material had passed through his store.

    “Microsoft is saying that this counterfeit software allegedly came through the store, but I don’t know where it came from,” Bird said. “We are very careful of everything we buy, but I guess some must have accidentally come through.”

    Bird said it is very hard to tell the difference between some of the authentic and counterfeit materials.

    “Microsoft is saying that this counterfeit software allegedly came through the store, but I don’t know where it came from. We are very careful of everything we buy, but I guess some must have accidently come through.”

    — Tim Bird, owner of Computer Recyclers

    “I check for all the markings that are supposed to be there, but sometimes, the counterfeit ones have them too,” Bird said. “So, all the sudden, I’m the bad guy.”

    Bird said regardless of fault, they intend to comply with Microsoft Corp. by providing whatever information Microsoft Corp. needs.

    United Computer Service, a computer software retailer in Logan, is another retailer accused of distributing counterfeit software.

    Bryce Berry, owner of United Computer Service, agreed that the counterfeits are hard to distinguish and compared his situation to receiving counterfeit money.

    “It’s just like if someone gives you a fake $20 bill and you don’t realize it’s counterfeit,” Berry said. “So, you go out and buy something with that $20 bill and get caught trying to use counterfeit money. You would be in trouble for something that wasn’t even your fault.”

    Although it may be hard to tell the difference between authentic and counterfeit software, Microsoft Corp. encourages consumers and retailers to watch for some familiar signs.

    Some of these signs include prices that seem “too good to be true,” back-up disks or CD-ROMs with handwritten labels, and components and manuals that appear to be of inferior quality.

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