Firm caught in Microsoft sting too scared to talk

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 05:00 12/11/2012

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One of six Auckland companies Microsoft has accused of supplying pirated software to undercover investigators says it fears reprisals if it discusses the circumstances of the "sting".

Microsoft New Zealand said on Friday it had received a total of $34,000 in compensation from six independent computer stores in Auckland that it caught selling unauthorised copies of its software.

Investigators posing as customers visited the six companies to see if they would be willing to sell unlicensed Microsoft products.

ComputerXpress director Andrew Clasby said he had been told a gagging clause meant Microsoft was free to say what it liked about the offences and settlements but ComputerXpress was unable to explain its actions, meaning some people had assumed the worst.

Microsoft said ComputerXpress was able to discuss the sting but not the terms of the settlement. However, Clasby remained reluctant. "Microsoft have got an unlimited supply of lawyers and an unlimited supply of funds, and if they want to make my life miserable . . . I have to stay in business."

Microsoft's lawyer, Clayton Noble, declined to disclose details of what happened between the investigators and the companies but said its investigators had strict rules against "entrapment".

"Each of the six companies admitted they dealt with illegal copies of Microsoft software and promised not to do it again," Noble said. When a supplier gave away a copy of Microsoft software with a computer purchase, even an outdated product, that could disadvantage legitimate competitors, he said.

Another of the six firms denied being involved in supplying pirated software, despite a claim by Microsoft that it had made an admission. Fairfax NZ

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