Symantec Corp. announced on Wednesday that it was awarded more than $1 million in restitution from a Houston software counterfeiter.
A year-long investigation by the Houston Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation snagged Li Chen, proprietor of Microsource International in Houston. In November 2004, investigators found more than 5,100 units of counterfeit Symantec software at Microsource, along with documents showing that he had sold more than $9.9 million worth of bogus Symantec products between April 2002 and October 2004.
Chen pleaded guilty to counterfeiting both Symantec and Microsoft software. Microsoft was awarded $95,000 in restitution.
In an e-mail, Bonnie MacNaughton, Microsoft senior attorney, said, "This case is a great example of how industry and law enforcement collaboration can help ensure that consumers are protected from software pirates and receive the security and benefits of genuine software."
William Baird, Symantec's Global Investigations manager, said the investigation was aided by customers who sent in spurious product. Symantec gets about 50 submissions a month. "[Counterfeiters] buy thousands of authentic disks, copy the key codes and then sell the authentic disks through grey market channels," he told internetnews.com.
Each of the companies is waging all-out war against counterfeiters -- and where one company's software has been copied, the other's often has been as well. Symantec established a Brand Protection Task Force in 2001, following a seizure of counterfeit software by Microsoft investigators. Along with Microsoft software the investigators found a huge haul of ersatz Symantec product.
"These suspects that victimize Microsoft tend to victimize other companies as well," Baird said.
In February 2003, authorities shut down a counterfeiting ring in Queens, N.Y., seizing about $10 million worth of phony software bearing the company's names.
In April 2005, Symantec won a default judgment of $3.1 million against Sam Jain for selling counterfeit Symantec software and violating Symantec's intellectual property rights. Since September 2003, the company has won more than $19.5 million in judgments in criminal and civil court against companies and individuals that ripped off its software.
Most recently, Microsoft sued eight of its resellers for allegedly distributing counterfeit copies of software such as Office 2000 Professional and Windows XP.
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