Microsoft sues China's Gome for alleged copyright infringement

SHANGHAI Tue Jan 10, 2012 4:36am EST

SHANGHAI Jan 10 (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp has sued Gome Electrical Appliances Holding, one of China's largest homegrown electronics distributors, and a Beijing electronics mall, for allegedly infringing on the copyright of its software.

Microsoft said in a statement it has filed lawsuits in the Shanghai Huangpu District People's Court and the Beijing Second Intermediate People's Court against Gome and Beijing Chaoyang Buynow mall to get both parties to stop infringing on its copyrights and for a compensation of losses.

The company said it has evidence that a Gome store in Shanghai installed pirated versions of its Windows and Microsoft Office software on computers for sale.

"We hope that the lawsuit will serve as a warning call for computer distributors and sellers to respect intellectual property rights," said Yu Weidong, general manager for IPR of Microsoft China, in a statement dated Jan. 6.

Gome Vice President Zou Xiaochun said he was not aware of the lawsuit.

Microsoft also said it has evidence that holds Beijing Chaoyang Buynow accountable for "lack of supervision or proper management" that allowed for the installation of illegal copies of Microsoft Windows and Office products on computers sold by two PC vendors at the PC market.

The mall was not immediately reachable for comment.

Microsoft has struggled to gain a foothold in China's booming IT industry due to the endemic problem of software piracy in the country. Last month, China said its government offices at every level will use legitimate as opposed to pirated computer software by the end of 2012.

The International Intellectual Property Alliance, a U.S. coalition of film, software, music and publishing groups, estimates that U.S. companies lost more than $15 billion in 2009 due to international copyright theft.

About $14 billion of the total was due to software piracy, with an estimated $3.5 billion in losses in China and $1.4 billion in Russia.

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