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Symantec files piracy lawsuit

Eight businesses, seven individuals named as defendants in suit alleging distribution, sales of counterfeit programs.

Symantec has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit that alleges eight businesses and seven individuals reaped an estimated $15 million in profits from pirated copies of its most popular security software.

The lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, comes after an investigation of more than two years, the company said. The lawsuit names ANYI, SILI, GT Micro, ASP Solutions, Mark Ma, Mike Lee, John Zhang and other affiliates as defendants.

"ANYI, SILI and their affiliates run a global counterfeit distribution operation with a major focus in the United States and Canada," William Plante, Symantec's senior director of corporate security and brand protection, said in a statement. "Their operations posed a tremendous threat to our customers, given the variety of outlets ANYI and SILI have developed to distribute and sell counterfeit Symantec software to unsuspecting consumers."

Symantec alleges the parties engaged in trademark infringement, copyright infringement, fraud, unfair competition and false advertising.

John Zhang said he and his company, Canada-based GT Micro, have not received a copy of the lawsuit and cannot comment. The other defendants have not yet been reached for comment.

As part of the investigation, which Symantec initiated, law enforcement officers seized more than 100,000 copies of counterfeit disks. The company says pirated copies included some of its more popular programs, such as Norton AntiVirus, Norton SystemWorks, Norton Internet Security, as well as PCAnywhere and Backup Exec.

Symantec is seeking $15 million in damages and a permanent injunction against ANYI and SILI from conducting business.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based security software vendor has had some success in its lawsuits against alleged software pirates. Last year, Symantec won a $3.1 million default judgment against an accused software pirate. And in 2003, it won a $3 million judgment against Maryland Internet Marketing, after the court found the East Coast company sold counterfeit copies of the security software.