A good friend who owns a small computer software company and occasionally supplies systems along with branded software was recently summonsed by Microsoft for having bought unlicenced software. He had bought in good faith a large number of licences along with some CDs from a company advertising in the national computer press, both the trade and retail press.
Microsoft's solicitor demanded £8000 compensation on the spot, against a threat of a £16000 law suit if he did not sign before leaving her office. He was also told he should only buy from an "authorised dealer" and that it was illegal to buy from any other, even threatening him with criminal prosecution for having done so. Apparently she seemed very sure of her case, as well as extremely aggressve, and claimed similar cases went to MS. From what I hear she used the exact techniques used by professional interrogators to extract information in order to extract a signature.
Now MS found that my friend had bought this "counterfeit" software through raiding the vendor. Therefore they were quite aware my friend had acquired the licences in good faith, and paid a reasonable amount for them, so was not out to make profit from cheating MS.
I first find it absolutely disgraceful that MS behave in this way
It was unwarranted to chase someone in this overbearing, arrogant manner, and the fact that my friend was an unwitting transgressor puts this behaviour below the gutter.
Secondly, if anyone has any legal knowledge of intellectual property law how strong is MS's case for (a) compensation at above wholesale price of the licences (even £8000 was to much), even though the original transaction was in good faith and (b) preventing the sale of software by unauthorised dealers, and criminal prosecution of the purchaser
Thirdly, if you have knowledge of contract law, is my friend's signature binding given that it was under duress with no time given to think or consult a legal representative?
My friend immediately visited his solicitor, but apparently he was non-commital for now.
believe that the British courts would countenance such disgusting behaviour from a large business towards a very small (around 8 employees) company, but as I say this lawyer seemed very sure of her case. How come such compensation can be demanded from someone who was the victim of an unlawful transaction? It is hateful that MS feel they can get away with enforcing their copyright in such a confrontational, spiteful, arrogant, demanding way, with no time for sensible discussion.
Is there nothing we can do
about this appalling company?