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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.