Microsoft Sues Retailer for Making 94,000 Fake Windows CDs

UK retailer Comet is being sued by Microsoft for supposedly making and then selling fake Windows CDs. Redmond said in a release that it had filed a suit against Comet Group PLC for allegedly creating and selling more than 94,000 sets of counterfeit Windows Vista and Windows XP recovery CDs in a factory in Hampshire. The alleged counterfeits were sold to customers who had purchased Windows-loaded PCs and laptops from Comet retail stores across the UK.

"As detailed in the complaint filed today, Comet produced and sold thousands of counterfeit Windows CDs to unsuspecting customers in the United Kingdom," said David Finn, associate general counsel, Worldwide Anti-Piracy and Anti-Counterfeiting at Microsoft. "Comet's actions were unfair to customers. We expect better from retailers of Microsoft products — and our customers deserve better, too."

However, it seems Comet is putting the blame on Microsoft. The retailer said in a press release that customers had been adversely affected by Microsoft's decision to stop offering recovery discs with each new Microsoft-based computer and says it 'firmly believes' that it acted in the best interests of the customer.

"We note that proceedings have been issued by Microsoft Corporation against Comet relating to the creation of recovery discs by Comet on behalf of its customers.  

Comet has sought and received legal advice from leading counsel to support its view that the production of recovery discs did not infringe Microsoft’s intellectual property.

Comet firmly believes that it acted in the very best interests of its customers.  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 defence to the claim and will defend its position vigorously."

What's unclear from this particular statement is whether Comet was actually charging customers for the discs or just including them with Windows machines sold at each of its stores (which would still be distribution of unauthorized copies of Microsoft's software). However, in a statement sent to the Verge, the company confirmed that the discs were sold to customers and sent directly to each customer after purchase. The company did not specify how much it charged customers for the discs.

"The discs were sold alongside new PCs. Each set of recovery discs were specific to the customer’s new laptop and were sent after purchase directly to each customer."

We'll keep you posted on any developments.

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    Top Comments
  • mrmaia
    This is the 1st plausible sue in months.
  • mitch074
    @singemagic: the user has a license to USE the installed software, and the RIGHT AS THE END USER to create one backup copy.

    As it is not the end user, Comet doesn't have a right to make a copy of the software, making the DVDs an illegal copy of Windows. IF they sold a service: "creating your recovery DVDs for you", then it could work. However, if you read the MS EULA closely, especially for OEM software, you'll notice that it's so closed off that no one, except the computer's buyer and his/her immediate family, has a right to USE the software.

    Now, nobody cares if a third party actually makes use of the computer... Unlee said third party makes money from that. And charging 15 bucks to burn a DVD would qualify.
  • memadmax
    This boils down to the serial numbers.
    It doesn't matter if you make "recovery cd" or an .iso copy.....

    If they were using the same serial number over and over again in an OEM mass distro, then they are in some deep doo doo...
  • Other Comments
  • alidan
    what is a recovery disk?

    I don't believe that ever used one, is it the thing that formats my hard drive and sets up windows and everything without installing Windows? Because if so it is one of those, and I was charged for.

    If that's what this is about the what the hell's Microsoft's complaint.

    If this is about them burning discs of Microsoft OSs, like the ISOs they give out when you buy digital copy of the OS burning back to her desk and giving it the people for price I also don't see what's wrong with it.

    Can somebody elaborate?
  • jiyung
    People still buying XP and Vista hahaha
  • singemagique
    So I take it these 'recovery disks' are the same ones you are now prompted to make when you first turn on a pre-built computers (the disk that can restore the OS and manufacturer specific software)?

    If Comet is already licensed to distribute Windows on the PCs they sale then why is it wrong for them to charge a convenience fee for producing the recovery disks (which every copy of the OS is entitled to)? Seems to me there is a big difference between producing recovery disks and selling 'fake' copies of an OS.