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Microsoft forgers get jail time in Taiwan

Syndicate controlled '90 per cent' of all fakes

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A counterfeiting operation that Microsoft claims was responsible for 90 per cent of faked Microsoft software has been sent up the river in Taiwan.

If the statistic is to be believed, nearly the entire worldwide distribution of "high-quality" Microsoft forgeries have been destroyed with the sentencing of Huang Jer-sheng and his underlings late last month.

(No word on the less publicized war against low-quality copies such as Microblorft Mindows and Axesell.)

Jer-sheng was the owner of Taipei-based Maximus Technology, an operation fingered for selling pirated software to over 600 cities in 22 countries between 1997 and 2003. Authorities say the software is worth an estimated $900 million.

Jer-sheng was sentenced to four years in prison for making fakes — the longest amount of jail time given for this type of crime in Taiwan's history, according to Microsoft. Three co-defendents in the case received 18 months to three years in jail. Six individuals were originally arrested.

Maximus Technology worked with counterfeiters in both Taiwan and southern China. Two CD replication plants in Taiwan were the main production centers for the forged discs and components. The counterfeiters made at least 21 Microsoft software products in seven languages, pawning the products to unwitting resellers and consumers.

"The criminals behind counterfeit syndicates are organized, resourceful and willing to spend large amounts of money to develop and ship pirated goods to markets all over the world," said John Newton, manager of the intellectual property coppers at INTERPOL. "Piracy is a crime, pure and simple, and it is imperative we coordinate our efforts across the globe to stop these criminal syndicates and this illicit trade."

Microsoft has always been vocal about stamping out counterfeit software operations. The company has aggressively sought prison terms for software fakers in China, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. It's also fought an equally venomous war against the so-called 'grey market', where branded goods bought in one country are sold elsewhere at a marked-down price.

In case you're losing sleep over it, you can make sure your software was properly blessed and sanctified at Redmond using Microsoft's handy How To Tell website. ®

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