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Secondhand Office 97 seller to sue after MS pulls eBay auction

'Pretty shocked' by piracy accusation

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A Brit has threatened to sue Microsoft after it pulled his auction from eBay.

Justin Mowle put his copy of Microsoft Office 97 Professional on ebay.co.uk earlier this month. The ten-day auction went quite well for Mowle, starting at £1 and drawing a top bid of £70.

However, no sooner had the sale ended than Mowle received an email from eBay saying it had removed his auction, number 1216594085, from the site "at the request of Microsoft".

According to the message, which was also sent to the top bidder, Microsoft had "filed a sworn statement that it [the auction] offers a product or contains material which violates their copyright, trademark or other rights."

"In the interest of protecting all eBay members, we remove such auctions from eBay to avoid any association with potentially infringing or unlawful items," eBay told Mowle.

Microsoft said it believed the software offered for auction was "not genuine Microsoft product or that the proposed transaction otherwise infringes Microsoft's intellectual property rights."

Mowle denied he was a software pirate, and told The Register he merely wanted to shift the full copy of Office Professional because he had bought a full copy of Office 2000 as a replacement.

"If I cannot sell my old software, why should I upgrade to Office XP when that is released?" he asked, adding he had threatened to sue Microsoft for accusing him of being a pirate.

"I was pretty shocked really. I don't see why you can't sell an old copy of your software."

Microsoft seemed to agree, and yesterday the software giant changed track, informing eBay it had no problem with Mowle's auction being reinstated.

According to Julia Phillpot, Microsoft UK anti-piracy manager, the auction interference was normal procedure.

"If customers buy illegal product they blame the auction site," she said. "If something looks suspicious we ask the auction site to take it down."

Sellers who query auctions being taken down have to prove to Microsoft that the software is genuine - this could either be by providing a serial number or proof of purchase. ®

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