Microsoft has filed 52 lawsuits against businesses and individuals around the world for using illegitimate versions of its Windows, Office, and other products. This is part of its effort to crackdown on the use of illegally copied software,
Microsoft estimates that counterfeiting costs the software industry about $40 billion per year worldwide.
The lawsuits filed Monday by Microsoft included actions in several other countries including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Italy, Ireland.
The company also referred 22 additional cases to local law enforcement authorities in foreign countries, Microsoft said Monday.
15 Of the lawsuits filed, involved software that’s been traced to a Chinese businesses and individuals that Microsoft said is the world’s largest ring of pirates. The gang was busted earlier this year through a joint effort involving Chinese authorities, the FBI and Microsoft.
Microsoft said most fake software gets sold online. These software are sold often to unsuspecting buyers. As a result, the company said it’s begun work with eBay to help educate the Web auctioneer’s customers about the risks of counterfeit software and how to spot fakes.
Microsoft has posted a “Buying Guide” on eBay’s Reviews and Guides section. Microsoft also participates in eBay’s “verified rights” program, through which legitimate merchants can report counterfeits to eBay and have them removed from its site.
The software counterfeiting problem isn’t confined to shadowy groups operating in far off countries. Several software vendors — including Adobe filed a lawsuit against the prestigious Philadelphia law firm of Fox Rothschild for allegedly ripping off the commercial software it uses in-house.