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Microsoft files 19 piracy suits

The company steps up efforts to quash software piracy, filing suits in two states against computer resellers and an online software seller.

Microsoft has turned up the heat against software piracy, filing lawsuits in two states against 19 software distributors.

The suits filed in Chicago and Los Angeles are the most recent measures in the software giant's ongoing anti-piracy efforts. But the move to quash software theft in Los Angeles, in particular, marks an increased campaign due to rising violations in the area, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft filed nine lawsuits in L.A. It alleges that five computer resellers offered counterfeit Office Professional 97 software, three sold computers pre-loaded with Office Professional 97, and one sold unauthorized versions of Windows 98.

The companies sued include PC House, Pan Computer, PD Software, Nova Tek, Tenico Computers, Fat Computers, Luna Tech, The Computer Place, and Tricom Computers.

Microsoft, dogged with software piracy problems lately, has ramped up efforts in the Los Angeles area to counteract the rising trend. Last month, the city was home to one of the largest counterfeiting busts in California, when officials seized approximately $30 million in counterfeit Microsoft software, Microsoft said.

Microsoft has taken to trolling the Net lately, as it has become a popular method for distributing pirated software. Last Friday, as previously reported, Microsoft said it would begin monitoring auction sites such as eBay for signs of counterfeit software.

The effort may be paying off. Software Products, which advertises its merchandise on the Net, was issued a court-ordered seizure and temporary restraining order, Microsoft said, which prohibits the Los Angeles-based retailer from further distributing counterfeit software advertised via its Web site.

Software Products allegedly advertised counterfeit end-user license agreements for Office Professional 98, Project 98, and Windows NT on its Web site.

Yesterday, Microsoft filed lawsuits against 10 Chicago resellers. It names eight companies for selling unauthorized software versions of Office Professional 97, Windows 95, Windows 98, and Microsoft Mouse 2.0. Companies named in the suits include Computer Marketing Technology, Computer Plus, Risk Free Discs, EOS Technologies, FosTec Computers, Logical Choice Computer, United Comtec, and Worldwide PC Source.