Microsoft sues Comet over 'counterfeit CDs'

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The Independent Online

The software giant Microsoft is suing the embattled electrical goods chain Comet over its alleged creation and sale of counterfeit Windows and Vista recovery CDs for computers.

Comet rejected the accusations and said it had "a good defence to the claim", adding that it would "defend its position vigorously".

Microsoft's lawsuit relates to Comet selling more than 94,000 of the recovery discs, which enable users to reinstall software they had purchased with computers, for £14.99 each between March 2008 and December 2009.

The retailer, which has more than 240 shops, used a third-party manufacturer to produce the discs at a factory in Hampshire. However, it is thought that Comet generated revenues of less than £1m from disc sales during the period. This suggests that the scale of the Microsoft legal claim will be relatively modest.

David Finn, the associate general counsel for worldwide anti-piracy and anti-counterfeiting at Microsoft, said: "Comet produced and sold thousands of counterfeit Windows CDs to unsuspecting customers in the UK. Comet's actions were unfair to customers."

It is understood that Opcapita, which is expected to complete its acquisition of Comet early next month, was aware of the lawsuit during its due diligence process.

Comet said it had "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".

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