Microsoft Enlisting Clueless States Attorneys General To Shake Down Foreign Companies For 'Piracy'

from the not-this-again dept

Almost exactly three years ago, we wrote about an effort by Microsoft to try to get various states to pass laws that would make it illegal to buy from a foreign company that uses unauthorized software. The goal was, basically, an incredibly cynical way for Microsoft to abuse overeager, grandstanding Attorneys General who want to pretend they're "helping local businesses" by blocking every other company from doing business with whoever might be the best supplier... unless they suddenly became licensed Microsoft customers. There were all sorts of problems with that idea, but over the past three years, Microsoft has apparently continued to push forward with variations on that concept -- and are now successfully getting states Attorneys' General (who have no authority over copyright issues) to shake down foreign companies with claims that they're "pirates."

In short, states Attorneys General are suing foreign companies, claiming that they're using infringing software, and claiming that this unfairly "harms" local competitors. Often, the "local" competitors have absolutely no clue this is being done in their name, or that they've even been "harmed" by a competitor they've never heard of:
The Oklahoma suit, filed in a state district court, alleges that Neway Valve Co. and affiliates, based in China, where they make valves and other equipment for oil companies, illegally obtained "copyrighted software that is crucial to the production and sale of their products," gaining an advantage over Oklahoma-based rivals.

[....]

Valve manufacturer Balon Corp., of Oklahoma City, was named by the attorney general as an injured party. That came as news to Phil Scaramucci, co-president of Balon, who said that he didn't know much about Neway and wasn't aware of the suit until he read about it in the newspaper.
In other words, this has absolutely nothing to do with protecting those local companies. They're being named in lawsuits that they don't even know about it and don't feel harmed by competitors they've never even heard of. This is all about Microsoft, yet again, abusing the legal system for its own benefit. It makes you wonder how much taxpayer money is being used to support these lawsuits.

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  1. identicon
    Mark, 7 Aug 2014 @ 11:34am

    Catch on...

    This is interesting post, and obviously not right. Any chance or thoughts of this catching on and happening in other places, or industries?

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