Microsoft is suing struggling retailer Comet over claims its shops sold “fake” Windows CDs to customers.
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The electronics chain allegedly pirated 94,000 copies of Vista and XP recovery discs in a factory in Hampshire.
It is then said to have sold the media to people purchasing Windows-loaded PCs and laptops from its retail outlets across the UK.
Microsoft’s worldwide anti-piracy and anti-counterfeiting associate general counsel David Finn said: “As detailed in the complaint filed, Comet produced and sold thousands of counterfeit Windows CDs to unsuspecting customers in the United Kingdom.
“Comet’s actions were unfair to customers. We expect better from retailers of Microsoft products – and our customers deserve better, too.”
In a statement, Comet said it had received legal advice but held the view that the production of recovery discs did not infringe Microsoft’s intellectual property.
It said: “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.”
Shares in Kesa Electricals, the French retail company which owns Comet, fell 5% following the news.
Kesa has been trying to sell the troubled retailer since last summer after it made a loss of £8.9m in the year to April 30, 2011.
In November it reportedly agreed to sell the loss-making chain, which has 248 stores and 10,000 employees in the UK, for just £2.
The buyer is a group of companies under the name Hailey Holdings Ltd, advised by retail turnaround firm, OpCapita LLP.
Microsoft added in a statement that it “seeks to protect its customers from counterfeiting and piracy – and ensure people get what they pay for”.
It urged customers to report suspicious software on its “How To Tell” website.
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