Microsoft wins piracy case against Chinese company

Microsoft won a Chinese court case over pirated software used by a local insurance company, scoring a point in its ongoing fight against intellectual property violations in China.

A Shanghai court on Thursday ordered Shanghai-based Dazhong Insurance to pay Microsoft 2.2 million yuan (US$320,000) in damages for using illegal copies of Microsoft software, the U.S. company said in a statement.

Dazhong was running 450 illegal copies of software spanning nine different Microsoft programs, including Windows XP and Microsoft Office, Microsoft said.

An employee of Dazhong Insurance reached by phone said the company was preparing to appeal the case.

The lawsuit was Microsoft's first against a large Chinese company for copyright infringement involving its software, Microsoft said. The damages were also the largest Microsoft has received in any case in China, it said.

The case follows another victory for Microsoft last year, when a Chinese court sentenced four people to jail for selling a popular pirated version of Windows XP called Tomato Garden.

China's software piracy rate was 80 percent in 2008, a high figure but still down from previous years, according to a study by IDC and the Business Software Alliance. Illegal versions of Windows XP, Microsoft Office and other programs are widely used in Chinese homes and offices.

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