The suits allege that three companies sold counterfeit versions of Windows 95 and Office 97 Professional and sold computers loaded with that software. Those companies are Gam Corporation, doing business as Computer Renaissance of St. Peters, Missouri, Laclede Computer Trading Company of St. Louis, and PC House of St. Louis.
In addition, Microsoft alleges that United Computer Technology of St. Louis sold counterfeit versions of the Microsoft software, and that Buol Communications, doing business as Ci Computers of Webster Groves, Missouri, illegally loaded the software on computers it sold.
Microsoft investigated the companies after receiving tips to its anti-piracy hotline. One person reported finding copies of Office Pro selling for $80.
"In these types of cases, Microsoft customarily notifies the defendants that it suspects them of acting illegally and then determines whether this behavior has continued before filing a lawsuit," a Microsoft statement said.
The lawsuits announced today were the latest in a series of anti-piracy actions by the Redmond, Washington, software company. The company has sued computer resellers in Texas and San Francisco and is taking actions to curb piracy in Thailand and China.
The company is publicizing its anti-piracy crackdown as part of its effort to raise awareness about the harm done by software theft.