back to article Microsoft sues Florida reseller it alleges sold 'black market access devices' allowing unlocking of Office 365

Microsoft has flung numerous accusations at a reseller based in Florida in the US ranging from copyright infringement to the use of some decidedly iffy licence codes. Miami-based Office Solutions USA was on the receiving end of the Windows giant's complaint [PDF], filed 2 November in a United States federal district court in …

  1. karlkarl Silver badge

    "impounding all unlawfully obtained product-activation keys"

    I think this is the difference between a free/open-source user and a "freetard". Product activation keys are worthless when it is the DRM itself that is completely unacceptable to some.

    People who "just want it to work without paying" are fairly tacky and I hate to see open-source users / developers getting lumped in with that bunch.

    So, weirdly I agree wholeheartedly with cracks to bypass DRM mechanisms. But if you are *only* using a crack to avoid paying then c'mon, Microsoft is almost giving this stuff away for free anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "But if you are *only* using a crack to avoid paying then c'mon...

      While I agree with you, I think the most important part of CTRL+C'ing anything virtual that has a retail price is that you don't make a profit with it unless you've paid for it. Copy and crack whatever, just pay up if you profit.

      Now, this "License our stuff and we'll decide if you can use it based on our cloudy connection" shit is another story. Just because it's legal to do, doesn't make it ethical (slavery was once legal) and at a certain point you might feel that even while you're paying for it, you should still use a crack.

    2. Qumefox

      How about people who "Just want it to work without paying *repeatedly*"? I have zero qualms about purchasing software. However I despise rental software with a passion.

      1. whoseyourdaddy

        I can't think of any software that I didn't wish would gain more features/fewer bugs. Development just doesn't stop after the sale is made.

        I do not have a use for Adobe Premiere Pro to justify buying a permanent/perpetual license. But, when the opportunity comes, I can make that internal training video look "pimped" once I remember which buttons to click. The monthly rental for Premiere Pro is about what I spend on a meal in the Bay area.

        Visio is another expensive tool that rents for about the cost of a trip for two to Starbucks that is enormously helpful on some months more than others.

        People/companies abusing DRM causes publicly-traded software companies (AutoDesk is another) to rely on cloudy subscriber mechanisms.

    3. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse


      "People who "just want it to work without paying" are fairly tacky"

      Quite right, and there are plenty of free alternatives to MS office products as well as plenty of free alternatives to non-MS products such as Photoshop or Premiere. I guess the only real problem for a lot of people is the desktop O/S itself which is why they continue with cracked / illegal versions of Windows.

  2. TonyJ Silver badge


    ...used to be (I would imagine still is) littered with adverts for e.g. Office 365 at ridiculous prices.

    A little bit of digging shows the obvious - not MS partners, not legit keys. But to the unknowing it can seem very tempting.

    I did once make the mistake of trying to warn prospective buyers and got a host of replied like "why are you trying to ruin a legit business?"

    I'm on the side of MS on this one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Facebook...

      Indeed. While I'm generally pretty anti-Microsoft (my only copies of Windows are on seldom-used virtual machines, these days, and I run LibreOffice), I find myself actually agreeing with them on this. Don't like the license terms or the price? Get a different product. (Like I did. See above.) Purchasing software at "too good to be true" prices? Customer should know better. Being the seller of license keys, knowing that they're not legal? Uh, wrong.

  3. beep54

    I read "Use of the imagery and trademarks aside, " as 'imaginary trademarks'. It was much more fun that way..

  4. a_yank_lurker


    I think there is a problem with how some business software is distributed to small businesses allowing shady middlemen to operate. Most small and many medium sized businesses do not have any real IT skills and thus rely on outside companies to be their IT staff. These middlemen often are responsible for supplying the hardware and software (with valid licenses presumably). But the final customer often lacks the skills to verify if everything is good. About the only way for a customer to determine if something is dodgy is by the price. But if the price looks legitimate (not ridiculously low) it would probably not raise any flags.

    As much as I dislike the Rejects of Redmond they are right on this one.

    1. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Middlemen

      It is not necessarily even small business. About 15 years ago the local authority I was working at purchased Office licenses at standard public sector pricing from established reseller. Some 18 months later after a routine audit by either Microsoft or someone like KPMG IT management are suddenly going nuts because it turns out the licenses were all fraudulent. A lot of work then had to be done to prove they had been purchased in good faith despite numerous other organisations being in the same situation.

      The real sting in the tail was that thousands of licenses had to be purchased again with no hope of ever recovering the money from the initial purchase. The really clever part of this scam is that the software was priced at the market rate.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Render unto caesor that which belongs to caesor's

    I have no problem with MS removing access to their software, it is after all for the common good

  6. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

    They really said that!?

    "While we don’t like to bring lawsuits, in this instance we needed to bring suit to stop distribution of <...> Microsoft software and product keys to unsuspecting victims."

    Does that mean all users of Microsoft software have standing to sue?

    Also, I'm shocked to see that, among the grounds for finding the defendants' behavior suspicious, simply being based in Florida not considered.

  7. Steve B

    Should never have allowed them to separate the licence from the product.

    The Key should be linked to the product and only allowed to be active on the one occasion. I have a couple of products like this.

    I can install them on as many PCs as I like, but I have to go to their website to disable a PC to enable another to run it.

    Microsoft were allowed to much leeway.

    If I buy a software package, I should be able to dictate where and when I use it.

    I used to be an Office 2K user because of Outlook, but since a PC crash and the removal of "old" versions of Outlook from MS download site, I am no longer tied so it is now LibreOffice for me.

  8. drankinatty

    Graymarket Goods...

    While a Linux user, and an attorney, I can't complain about Microsoft's use of the legal system in this case. While they must prove their case, (which shouldn't be difficult), the publicity from the suit putting the shady reseller market on notice is arguably worth more than they can hope to recover. The aspect of the complaint I found interesting was "Just how did activation keys for the activation of devices in China end up being sold by a Florida company?" I guess "Graymarket Goods" now includes "Greymarket Activation Keys". Proof of that claim will likely largely be cumulative after providing evidence the company was based in Florida (Res ipsa loquitur...)

  9. Anonymous South African Coward

    "...will be met with an unleashing of the lawyers."

    Scariest thing I've read this morning.

    ===> getting out of the office before any lawyery types comes a-calling...

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like