Microsoft Corp.’s South African division says that the Pretoria Commercial Crime Court sentence of Craig Marnoch to the maximum term of three years imprisonment in terms of the Counterfeit Goods Act, after finding him guilty of selling counterfeit Microsoft products and infringing Microsoft’s copyright, is a first in SA legal history.

Microsoft SA says that it welcomes the ruling, as it sets a precedent for prosecution around counterfeit goods as well as emphasizes the value of protecting intellectual property (IP) rights. Microsoft says Marnoch established himself as an online distributor of software products, and sold counterfeit Microsoft products under various company names, misleading the public. Microsoft says the sale of counterfeit software is copyright infringement that creates confusion in the marketplace. This is a victory for all intellectual property rights holders in SA, and clearly indicates the seriousness with which it is viewed by the courts.Tonia Papanikolaou>Text

Microsoft lodged a criminal complaint with the South African Police Services to actively protect its customers and business partners against this type of infringement, as well as promote a level playing field within the marketplace. Microsoft says that it has made significant investments in its software, and believes that consumers benefit when they have a clear choice of products, and an understanding of how those products will perform when chosen.

According to the company, members of the Microsoft reseller channel and the public provided valuable evidence over a period of two years in building a strong case against Marnoch, who was arrested in late October last year, and pleaded guilty to the first two counts.

“This is a victory for all intellectual property rights holders in SA, and clearly indicates the seriousness with which it is viewed by the courts,” says Tonia Papanikolaou, attorney at Bowman Gilfillan Inc.

“Intellectual property is an essential element of modern business development,” says Mark Reynolds, group manager, partner development and marketing at Microsoft SA. “The protection of IP fosters local innovation and spurs economic growth in the IT industry. We would like to thank the police, prosecutors, the reseller channel and members of the public for their assistance in successfully concluding this case.”

Microsoft says that to distinguish between genuine and fake products people can visit http://www.microsoft.com/howtotell.



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