TWO computer retailers in Sim Lim Square accused of peddling counterfeit Microsoft programs have agreed to pay $70,000 in damages, the software giant said yesterday.
The shops' directors will also do 144 hours of community service, which includes providing IT services to charities, as part of an out-of-court settlement.
In an April raid, 300 counterfeit copies of high-end Microsoft programs, worth $65,000, were seized from the two Sim Lim shops, Best Bytes and Powersys. It was the biggest such haul in Singapore to date.
Another shop, Bizgram, had one copy of the China-made counterfeits, which are so good they are practically indistinguishable from the originals, Microsoft said yesterday.
Best Bytes and Powersys, the retailers paying the damages, have since closed down.
The shops 'wanted to settle' the matter out of court, said Microsoft's corporate attorney for intellectual property Jonathan Selvasegaram.
Other Sim Lim retailers cheered the crackdown.
Shops peddling the cheaper pirated software enjoy an unfair advantage by undercutting legitimate players, said Cybermind manager Chia Hung King.
While Microsoft is well known for its tough stance on software piracy, the software giant yesterday also handed out goodies, like plaques and decals, to 11 Sim Lim Square retailers that sold genuine software.
It marks the first time the company has tried the scheme, designed to let shoppers know which retailers they can trust.
National serviceman Alvin Ng, who was shopping for computer parts at the complex, said the initiative was of 'some use'.
'It shows the shop has some integrity. A shop that sells pirated software probably doesn't have a problem cheating us in other ways.'
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