UK electronics retailer, Comet, is being taken to court by Microsoft for allegedly creating and selling unauthorised copies of its Windows operating systems.

Microsoft claim that the retailer created more than 94,000 Windows recovery discs for Vista and XP, and sold them to customers.  They were sold between March of 2008 and December 2009, and while Comet sold this as an added extra to customers who wished to restore their computers to original configuration in the event of problems, the Redmond based technology company claim this is unfair to the consumer.

Microsoft's lawyer David Finn said:

As detailed in the complaint filed today, Comet produced and sold thousands of counterfeit Windows CDs to unsuspecting customers in the United Kingdom. Comet’s actions were unfair to customers. We expect better from retailers of Microsoft products — and our customers deserve better, too.

Shortly after this, a spokesperson from Comet released a statement saying:

"We note that proceedings have been issued by Microsoft Corporation against Comet relating to the creation of recovery discs by Comet on behalf of its customers.

Comet has sought and received legal advice from leading counsel to support its view that the production of recovery discs did not infringe Microsoft's intellectual property.

Comet firmly believes that it acted in the very best interests of its customers. It believes its customers had been adversely affected by the decision to stop supplying recovery discs with each new Microsoft Operating System based computer.

In our mind, this is a bit of a grey area in terms of where the legality is here.  Instead of giving you a physical disc, Microsoft are making you burn it yourself.  So the question really is should there be a price on this assistance from Comet, or should it have been a free service?  We'd got for the latter; but either way round, this is most certainly not piracy.

Source: Microsoft

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