Microsoft Sues British Retailer Over Counterfeit Recovery Disc Claims


Microsoft said Wednesday it is suing electrical retailer Comet Group over allegations that the firm created and sold more than 94,000 sets of counterfeit Windows recovery discs in the UK.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant claims that Comet illegally produced CDs that allowed users to reinstall Windows Vista and Windows XP software they legitimately purchased with Windows-loaded personal computers (PCs) and laptops.

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Since 2008, most computer firms have relied on the end user to burn their own recovery disc rather than include one when selling PCs or laptops.

By producing the recovery discs in a factory in Hampshire, southern England, and selling them on to consumers throughout the UK, Comet fell foul of counterfeiting laws, Microsoft alleged in the lawsuit, filed Wednesday.

"Comet's actions were unfair to customers. We expect better from retailers of Microsoft products -- and our customers deserve better, too," according to David Finn, Microsoft's worldwide anti-piracy and anti-counterfeiting associate general counsel.

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But Comet, which is owned by France's Kesa Electricals, said Wednesday that it does not believe its actions infringed Microsoft's intellectual property.

"Comet firmly believes that it acted in the very best interests of its customers," a spokesperson said. "It believes its customers had been adversely affected by the decision to stop supplying recovery discs with each new Microsoft Operating System based computer. Accordingly, Comet is satisfied that it has a good defense to the claim and will defend its position vigorously."

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