Symantec officials have thrown the first punches in a legal battle against eight companies it has accused of distributing counterfeit Symantec software.
The company has filed eight separate civil lawsuits, seeking a combined total of more than $55 million in damages, in U.S. District Court in California during the past several months. Among those named in the suits are California-based companies: Acortech, mPlus, eDirect Software and Rowcal Distribution. In addition, Logical Plus, based in New York; Directron.com, based in Texas; eDirect Software, based in Canada; and Florida companies Global Impact Inc. and SoftwareOutlets.com are being sued as well.
Symantec officials claim the businesses engaged in trademark infringement, copyright infringement, fraud, unfair competition, trafficking in counterfeit labels and documentation, and false advertising. The company is seeking a jury trial in each case and wants damages ranging from $4 million to $10 million in each claim.
The vendors sold counterfeit versions of Norton SystemWorks, Norton AntiVirus, Norton Internet Security, pcAnywhere and Symantec AntiVirus Small Business Edition, Symantec officials claimed.
Scott Minden, Symantecs director of legal affairs, said in an interview with eWEEK that the lawsuits were the result of the efforts of Symantecs Brand Protection Task Force. The task force reviewed defective discs submitted by customers of the accused businesses and purchased suspected counterfeit software from the businesses as well. The investigation revealed most of the sales were conducted online, with the actual disks delivered in single, blank white sleeves to unwitting customers without documentation, directions, labeled packaging or activation code information, Symantec officials added.
Counterfeit software, Minden explained, may not be up to the corporations standards and can endanger users.
"[Pieces of counterfeit software] don't come with user guides, often times you cant get updates and they don't work properly," he said.
In addition to damages, the security vendor wants a permanent injunction against all of the businesses from conducting further sales of unauthorized Symantec products and to turn over all existing inventory of the counterfeit Symantec software held by the businesses and their affiliates.
Minden added the company will try to use the discovery process as a way to garner more information about where the eight companies got the software in question.
"Obviously, that information helps us go after other counterfeit resellers," he said.
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