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By | Kelly Fiveash 27th September 2007 15:14

Pyramid flies white flag in Microsoft grey market row

Parallel import fight settled

Microsoft has settled a copyright infringement dispute with UK-based Pyramid Distribution over so-called "parallel importing".

Neither firm was willing to provide financial details of the High Court settlement, but according to Microsoft, Lancs-based Pyramid admitted liability for selling tens of thousands in volume of the software giant's products at a reduced price.

Under EU law, parallel imports describe branded goods bought at a low price in one country and then sold elsewhere within Europe more cheaply than the trade mark holder intends.

The software behemoth said such "undercutting" practice represented millions of pounds in lost revenues for distributors and resellers of Microsoft goods.

Microsoft's anti-piracy UK head Michaela Wardell told El Reg that the outcome was "a fantastic achievement within the channel for levelling the playing field.

"We take very seriously any kind of infringement that any reseller chooses to partake in and we will do whatever we can to protect the good resellers."

However, there are many that would disagree with Microsoft's stance against slashed pricing.

Consumer groups argue that such trading methods opened up healthy competition among resellers, the impact of which filters down to customers who unsurprisingly favour reduced price tags.

Pyramid director James Cooke said in a statement that the firm was glad to have settled its action with Microsoft.

"We believe more assistance is needed from Microsoft to assist companies like Pyramid Distribution from falling into the trap of unknowingly dealing in software, which has been parallel imported," said Cooke. ®

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