Microsoft Wins Substantial Damages Award for Unauthorized Distribution of its Software

 A federal court has granted Microsoft Corporation default judgment against two PC Village businesses and two individuals associated with the businesses in an action for copyright and trade-mark infringement. Microsoft’s investigators had purchased computers from two separate PC Village locations. The judge found that one computer contained seven unauthorized Microsoft software programs, while the other had eight.

In assessing statutory damages for copyright violations, the judge noted that the defendants had been put on notice regarding the infringing nature of their activities. The judge also found that the individual defendants had candid discussions with the Microsoft investigators about their unauthorized distribution of software. He factored the bad faith and deliberate disregard of Microsoft’s rights, as well as the need to deter other infringers, into the damages award. The judge also concluded that the defendants’ conduct justified a significant punitive damages award and injunctive relief. Because the individual defendants were aware of and had participated in the infringing activities, the judge held them personally liable.

To send a clear message to the defendants and other counterfeiters, the judge awarded statutory damages of $10,000 per copyright violation as well as $50,000 for punitive damages against the companies and individuals jointly and severally, and a further $50,000 for solicitor/client costs.

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