The lawsuits were filed in Arizona, California, Illinois, Minnesota and New York against companies that allegedly sold counterfeit copies of software such as Office 2000 Professional and Windows XP, Microsoft said in a statement Monday.
Some of the resellers also allegedly dealt in fake and used Certificate of Authenticity labels, which are used to identify Microsoft products as genuine, the company said. A Certificate of Authenticity includes a product key code and is designed to prevent counterfeiting.
The lawsuits are part of Microsoft'son software piracy, which the company acknowledges cuts into its earnings. According to the Business Software Alliance, of all the software installed on personal computers worldwide in 2004, 35 percent was pirated, resulting in $33 billion in losses.
Tips from users who called Microsoft's piracy tip line (1-800-RU-LEGIT) and information derived from the company's Windows Genuine Advantage program helped identify some of the accused sellers of pirated products, Microsoft said. The software maker also used its own "secret shoppers" to gather evidence, it said.
Windows Genuine Advantage is a system designed to prevent people with pirated copies of Windows from downloading additional software from Microsoft. The WGA check becamefor people attempting to get product updates.
People who find out through WGA that they were duped into buying bogus Microsoft products in some cases can getof the software.