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Counterfeiters told to pay Symantec $21m

What chance of collecting?

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Symantec today hit pay dirt, winning $21m damages from the US courts against a counterfeit software ring spanning the US and Asia. Which is nice: in December 2006, the last time Symantec spoke on the matter, the security software firm had pressed for damages of $15m-plus.

The judgments were handed down in US District Court in Los Angeles against "ANYI, SILI Inc., Mark Ma, Mike Lee, John Zhang, Yee Sha, and related defendants". But what chance of collecting? Counterfeiters could always print the money, although that may be a little unwise, considering the circumstances. And Symantec knows where at least one of the counterfeiters is - in July this year Mark Ma was arrested in Shenzhen by Chinese authorities.

But even if it doesn't get its damages, Symantec gets to send the message: you will be caught, you will be punished. So says Symantec lawyer Scott Minden: "A judgment like this is a crippling blow against these particular syndicates and will drive them even further underground, making it more difficult for them to sell directly to unsuspecting users. It complicates their ability to operate behind the guise as legitimate businesses."

So there you have it: life gets a little bit more complicated for crooks. But with profit margins for packages software so high, and so many people willing to buy cheap knock-offs, we suspect that Mr. Ma's shoes have already been filled. And then some. ®

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