Microsoft continues to investigate and track down counterfeiters and improper licensing practices across the US. 

Since 2005 they have filed 337 lawsuits; performed 176 criminal raids, reached settlements that total just under 40 million dollars and seized 326,107 products worth over 200 million dollars.


In December of 2009 they filed 15 new lawsuits against companies in California, Colorado, Texas and Georgia that are suspected of improper licensing, distribution and use of Microsoft products.

So how can you make sure that you do not fall victim to this type of piracy?  Well Microsoft provides a handy checklist at their How to Tell website and I want to summarize those checks here. As you go around shopping for that new PC or software ask yourself these things:

  • Am I buying from a reputable seller?
  • Is a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) included?
  • Is a holographic disc or recovery media included?
  • Are the product packaging and documentation high quality?
  • Is the software properly licensed for sale?

To read more details on these questions you can download this Purchasing Genuine Microsoft Software PDF file and print it out to take with you as you shop.

So what do you do if you suspect someone may be trying to sell you counterfeit products? Again – from the How to Tell website:

  • Don’t buy the software
  • Submit a counterfeit report at or at Make sure you provide details in your report such as where you saw the software and what was wrong about the situation.
  • Be sure your buying from a good source.  If you had the choice between someone on the corner selling outside the back of a van or buying a copy of Windows from a department store then I would recommend the department store.
  • If you already purchased a product and you suspect it may be counterfeit then you can check whether it is genuine by going to to run the validation tool and check it out. If it is unfortunately non-genuine then the site will provide instructions on how to get genuine.

As with anything we do you just need to be cautious and make sure you check all things out.  I am sure most of us would not go to  a doctor unless we had a good referral from a trusted friend or colleague. I recommend you take similar recommendations for when it is time to buy that new computer or software – just to be on the safe and genuine side of things.