Microsoft wants Verizon to hand over names of suspected Windows pirates

Microsoft files lawsuit against Verizon IP seeks damages for hundreds of suspicious Windows 7 activations from a Verizon IP address

Verizon has incurred the wrath of Microsoft for allegedly activating hundreds of copies of Windows 7 illegally. In a lawsuit filed at a Washington court, the Seattle-based company has asked the court to let it serve a subpoena on Verizon to force the Internet provider to identify those behind a two-year scheme that supposedly logged hundreds of suspicious product activations from a Verizon IP address and is now seeking damages.

In its 29 year history, Microsoft’s Windows operating systems have been pirated millions number of times. On some levels, it is a practice that Microsoft has accepted with regular consumers largely trying to keep away from the company’s aggression. However, the same cannot be said of those pirating the company’s products on a commercial scale.

According to documents filed with a U.S. District Court in Seattle last week, Microsoft targets individuals behind a single IP address 74.111.202.30, which was the origin of the Windows 7 product activations. Microsoft will not be able to find who are responsible for this serious Windows pirating, unless Verizon provides the subscriber name or names for that address.

Microsoft said “Microsoft seeks leave to serve a Rule 45 subpoena on Verizon Online to obtain subscriber information associated with the infringing IP address at the time of the alleged acts of infringement.”

“As part of its cyberforensic methods, Microsoft analyzes product key activation data voluntarily provided by users when they activate Microsoft software, including the IP address from which a given product key is activated,” the lawsuit reads.

Microsoft says that its forensic tools lets the company to examine billions of activations of Microsoft software and identify patterns “that make it more likely than not” that an IP address connected with activations is the one through which pirated software is being activated.

Currently, the address is established with Verizon FIOS, the Internet provider’s broadband service. These activations have features that on facts and belief, indicate that Defendants are using the IP address to activate pirated software.

In a complaint filed on April 28, Microsoft laid out its case, naming a series of “John Does”, as it had not been able to find the real names of the alleged culprits.

Microsoft said “The infringing IP address has been used to activate hundreds of copies of Windows 7,” using stolen or illegal activation keys. Some of the keys had been stolen from its supply chain, others were keys appointed for OEMs but instead used by an unauthorized party, and still more were legit keys that were used more than it was allowed for.

One of Microsoft’s primary anti-piracy technologies is Product activation and it depends on the unique 25-character code allocated to each copy of the operating system. Customers and OEMs activate Windows by connecting to Microsoft’s servers.

“Based on the volume and pattern of their activation activity, on information and belief, defendants appear to consist of one or more commercial entities that subsequently distributed those systems to customers who, on information and belief, were unaware they were receiving pirated software,” the complaint read.

Microsoft examined the incoming product activations from the single source, and deduced that the “activation patterns and characteristics … make it more likely than not that the IP address associated with the activations is an address through which pirated software is being activated.”

Senior Paralegal at Microsoft in an affidavit asserted that the pirates had been operational for “at least the past two years.”

Once Microsoft is able to identify the people responsible for the IP address, it plans to sue them for copyright and trademark infringement, deceptive practices, treble damages and attorney fees or, alternatively, statutory damages.

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