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Microsoft guns for web sales biz in piracy crackdown

Seeks ONE MILLION pounds from pesky license evaders

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Microsoft reportedly has two more companies in its sight as the software giant’s licensing crackdown focuses on China.

Redmond said it is seeking compensation of at least at least 10 million yuan (£980,000) and a printed apology in the People’s Daily from two Beijing-based e-commerce firms for installing pirated versions of its software, China Daily reported.

The two related firms – Beijing Ming Wan Zhi Da Technology and Ming Wan Information Technology – apparently have branches nationwide and offer e-commerce solutions to SMBs.

They are accused of installing dodgy versions of Microsoft Windows, Office, VisualStudio, and other packages, the state-run rag reported.

However, the case has hit a snag after the judge of Beijing No. 2 Intermediate Court ruled a second trial will be necessary given that the opposing sets of lawyers are estimating hugely different figures for the economic loss Microsoft is supposed to have incurred.

Lawyers for the Beijing firms reportedly said Redmond had massively miscalculated in arriving at its 10 million yuan figure.

Microsoft could not immediately be reached for comment.

Lobby group the Business Software Alliance says 78 per cent of China's computers ran on counterfeit software in 2010, just a percentage point fewer than the year previous.

Microsoft has had some high profile successes in the past in the People’s Republic, however.

In 2009 a Shenzhen court sentenced a gang of 11 to harsh prison terms of between one and a half and six and a a half years after it found them guilty of manufacturing and distributing pirated Microsoft software worth around $2bn (£1.2bn).

In a 2010 case, Redmond won 2.17m yuan in damages from Shanghai-based Dazhong Insurance after the firm was found guilty of using unlicensed software.

The Chinese government has also realised the importance of clamping down on this kind of thing, starting with its own departments which will reportedly all be mandated to use copyrighted software by the end of 2012.

Gartner analyst Matthew Cheung said that China knows it needs to become more IP-friendly if it is to become an attractive offshore destination.

“Despite some signs of improvement, China has a long way to go to improve the piracy issue and IP protection situation,” the analyst added.®

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