Attorney General Martha Coakley stated using unlicensed software should not gain an unfair cost advantage over rivals. (Photo: www.mass.gov)
Thai fish processor fined for using unlicensed software
Friday, October 19, 2012, 23:20 (GMT + 9)
A Thai fish processor has agreed to pay USD 10,000 after allegedly using unlicensed Microsoft software to gain an unfair competitive advantage over Massachusetts businesses, Attorney General Martha Coakley informed.
The Attorney General’s Office said that Thai firm Narong Seafood Company, Ltd, which has an operation in Gloucester, sold and delivered products unfairly into Massachusetts by illegally using pirated software products without having paid the appropriate licensing fees, thereby violating MGL Chapter 93A and its prohibition on unfair competition.
“Businesses using unlicensed software should not gain an unfair cost advantage over rivals who play by the rules,” AG Coakley said. “We are committed to ensuring that companies doing business in Massachusetts compete on a level playing field.”
This is the first time Massachusetts has used laws that are meant to combat unfair business practices against a company for illegally obtaining and using software, Boston Globe reports.
As a result of not having to pay for the legitimate licenses to the software it used, Narong was able to lower its costs and gain an unfair advantage over local companies that paid for the right to use such software products, the AG’s Office alleged.
The agreement with the Thai company was filed late this week in Suffolk Superior Court.
On the front page of its website this week, the company stated that it “completed an internal audit of our IT systems to ensure that our systems are secured, that we adhere to the intellectual property laws of Thailand and abroad.”
Microsoft Corp had alerted Coakley’s office that it suspected Narong of using its software illegally.
The use of pirated software “puts law-abiding businesses at a disadvantage when competing with companies that take the shortcut of stealing intellectual property,” said Mark Lamb, a Microsoft spokesperson.
Under the terms of the Assurance of Discontinuance, Narong has agreed not to illegally use any more unlicensed copyrighted software programmes associated with the production or manufacturing of goods that enter Massachusetts. Narong will also pay a USD 10,000 civil penalty to the state.
“By holding foreign businesses accountable for stealing IT, she has taken an important first step in addressing the inequality of foreign labour markets, and standing up for Massachusetts manufacturing jobs,” said Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven A Tolman.
By Natalia Real