• United States
by Elizabeth Montalbano

Microsoft sues MAPS partners, systems builders

Dec 15, 20053 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsLegalMicrosoft

Microsoft has filed seven lawsuits against partners for allegedly violating their Microsoft Action Pack Subscriptions contracts by reselling software meant for internal use only and for other activities, the company said Thursday. It’s the first time the vendor has taken legal action against MAPS partners, who are permitted by Microsoft to obtain software at a discounted price for internal use only.

The Redmond, Wash., software company also filed three other suits against system builders for allegedly selling PCs with counterfeit Microsoft software installed on them, said Microsoft attorney Matt Lundy.

Microsoft has filed the various complaints in an effort to protect Microsoft partners that are abiding by the rules of their contracts and doing business fairly, said John Ball, U.S. system builder general manager at Microsoft.

“We’re all about trying to level the playing field for our partners who are doing the right thing and selling software in the right ways so they can compete and create a business that’s lucrative for them,” he said.

The suits against MAPS partners were filed on Nov. 18 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, while the three suits against system builders were filed Tuesday in U.S. District Courts in Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio, where each of the companies is located.

The individuals named in the MAPS lawsuits are Catherine Will and Philip Parana, of Buffalo, N.Y.; James Baker, San Diego; Kenneth Ham, College Station, Texas; Benjamin Hesson, Leesburg, Va.; Charles Klosek, Glenn Dale, Md.; Jimmy Huh, Encinitas, Calif.; Eric Mitchell, Santa Ana, Calif.; and Lang Ngo, San Francisco.

System builders named in the alleged counterfeiting actions are: Auction Hut, Toledo, Ohio; Comp-Discounts Software, Boca Raton, Fla.; and Computer Techs, Grove City, Pa.

In the MAPS complaints, Microsoft is alleging that partners violated their contracts by selling software they received through the MAPS program on online auction sites, Lundy said. Some of the parties also deceived Microsoft by obtaining multiple MAPS in a single year when their contract mandates they can only obtain one per year, he said.

Microsoft learned of partners’ alleged contract violations by monitoring MAPS program activity, Lundy added.

In the system builders’ case, Microsoft had asked the companies named in the suits to “cease and desist” selling counterfeit software, he said. The company took legal action only after the partners continued what Microsoft believes to be illegal activity.

Microsoft is seeking several remedies in the cases, Lundy said. The company is asking for court orders to prohibit such conduct by the companies and individuals in the future, and also is asking the courts to impose fines based on the individual circumstances of each case, he said.

The lawsuits mark the latest of Microsoft’s continued efforts to stop companies and individuals from pirating and counterfeiting its software products. In September the company filed eight antipiracy lawsuits against companies for allegedly distributing counterfeit software or copies that infringe on Microsoft trademarks or copyrights.