Microsoft complains to China over piracy at state firms -report

SHANGHAI, Sept 21 Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:21am EDT

SHANGHAI, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp has lodged a complaint with China to stop four state-owned companies from allegedly using pirated and unlicensed versions of its software, Bloomberg News reported on Friday.

Microsoft alleged that China Railway Construction Corp , TravelSky Technology, China Post Group and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) were using pirated or unlicensed software and filed a complaint last month to a government panel overseen by China's Vice Premier Wang Qishan, Bloomberg reported, quoting three unnamed sources.

Microsoft declined to comment on the article but said the company was having "ongoing discussions" with China about protecting intellectual property.

Wang, in a meeting with Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer in May, promised to crack down on software piracy, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Wang also told Ballmer that central government organs in China were using authorised software since China's push last year to use and purchase only legitimate software.

According to the Bloomberg report, Microsoft alleged last month that 84 percent of its Office software used at China Railway Construction was unlicensed as was 97 percent of its Windows server client software.

Microsoft also said that more than 40 percent of Office and Windows server client software used by CNPC was unlicensed while almost all of Travelsky's Office software was unlicensed and 93 percent of China Post's come from pirated versions. Bloomberg said Microsoft's allegations were based on its own estimates.

A TravelSky investor relations executive declined to comment w hen contacted by Reuters as did an official at CNPC who only identified himself as Liu. Off icials at China Post a nd C hina Railway Construction could not immediately be reached.

Bloomberg reported that a China Post executive told the news service that Microsoft's allegations were "inaccurate" while a China Railway Construction public relations executive said estimated use of unlicensed software was greatly exaggerated.

Rampant software piracy in China has made the market difficult for Microsoft to crack, but over the past few years the company has stepped up assertion of its intellectual property rights.

Earlier this year Microsoft 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.