The Redmond, Wash., software maker has filed nine lawsuits and sent more than 50 letters threatening such action, it said in a statement. The suits were filed in the United States, but they target groups that operate internationally, posing as academic resellers in Jordan and elsewhere in that region and then reselling discounted Microsoft products in the U.S.
"These companies reaped millions of dollars in illegal profits by allegedly selling the software to Internet retailers in the United States rather than supplying it to the students," Microsoft said in the statement.
Many of the Internet retailers, in turn, allegedly made hefty profits by selling the software at retail prices to unsuspecting American consumers who were deceived into buying software that was not licensed for their use, Microsoft said.
One of the largest offenders, EDirectSoftware.com, has already agreed to settle Microsoft's lawsuit for more than $1 million in cash and property, Microsoft said. Other merchants that received letters have agreed to stop selling the software, the company said.
Software piracy resulted in a, a $1.6 billion increase over 2004, according to a study commissioned by the Business Software Alliance. Microsoft has been fighting software piracy for years, that includes action against pirates and tools that check licenses on PCs.
The products for education are marked "Student Media" and "Not for retail or OEM distribution. Not for resale."