Alleged software counterfeiters indicted

By , IDG News Service |  Legal, copyright, eBay

Two U.S men have been indicted on several software counterfeiting related charges for allegedly selling pirated software on eBay and through Web sites.

The indictment, announced this week, was returned by a federal grand jury for U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona in November. Christopher Loring Walters, 28, of Newport Beach, California, and Matthew Thomas Purse, 32, of Gilbert, Arizona, were charged with conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, criminal copyright infringement, and trafficking in counterfeit labels, packaging or containers, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix.

Convictions for mail and wire fraud carry a maximum of 20 years in prison, while the other charges carry a maximum of five-year sentences. All the counts carry a maximum US$250,000 fine.

Purse has appeared in court in Phoenix and was released pending trial. Walters remains a fugitive.

From September 2004 to February 2006, Walters and Purse created several eBay merchant accounts and other commercial Web sites where they sold counterfeit software, according to the charges. The two men, doing business as SoftwareDiner.com, Thesoftwareyard.com, Argyleequity.com, Eagletronics.com, Tekdealer.com, and other business names, advertised that they were authorized distributors of numerous brand-name software packages.

Among the software they sold were copies of packages from Apple, Corel, McAfee, Symantec and other companies, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. The companies lost more than $500,000 in sales through the men's operations, the agency said.

The Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) praised the indictments. The trade group worked with investigators on the case, it said.

"Our goal is to do whatever is needed and appropriate to shut down these sites and to cease the sale of counterfeit software via the Internet," Keith Kupferschmid, SIIA's senior vice president for intellectual property policy and enforcement, said in a statement.

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