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By | John Leyden 13th January 2005 14:53

Maximum sentence for SA software pirate

Three years' jail

A South African was this week jailed for three years for selling counterfeit Microsoft software and infringing Microsoft's copyright. Craig Marnoch received the maximum sentence for his crimes at Pretoria Commercial Crime Court - a first in South African legal history - despite an earlier guilty plea.

"Having established himself as an online distributor of software products, Marnoch sold counterfeit Microsoft products under various company names, misleading the public," according to a Microsoft SA. Evidence from Microsoft resellers over the course of two years led to Marnoch's arrest in October 2004. He was charged with offences under South Africa's Counterfeit Goods Act, later pleading guilty to the first two counts of selling pirated Microsoft software.

IT lawyer Lisa Thornton said piracy and counterfeiting have become widespread in the South Africa over the past decade, IT Web reports.

Oh Canada

In separate news, Microsoft is suing a Canadian firm for C$250,000 ($208K) over allegations that it sold and distributed counterfeit Windows certificate of authenticity labels. Raeco Industries, from Mississauga, Ontario and its director, Ross Borge, are charged with infringing Canada's Trade-mark Act in a lawsuit filed last month. It's claimed that Raeco ran an outfit called Planet-Rom.com offering that offered the bogus labels for sale.

In selling counterfeit Microsoft goods Borge is allegedly breaking a settlement with the software giant signed in 2002 when he was with a separate Ontario firm and a separate 2003 court judgement, according to local reports. Because of these alleged misdeeds, Microsoft is seeking punitive damages as well as a restraining order. The allegations against Raeco Industries and Borge are yet to go to court. ®

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