Delhi HC awards Microsoft Rs 20 lakh in 12-yr-old copyright violation case


The Delhi high court awarded Rs 20 lakh to Microsoft in damages in a 12-year-old copyright infringement suit.

Microsoft said that a Mumbai-based firm was illegally using its software programs in which its copyrighted products, including Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office and Windows Server were being reproduced and used for commercial purposes at the firm’s offices.

The court had on May 24, 2010, passed an injunction restraining the Mumbai firm from infringing the plaintiffs’ software programs.

A local commissioner was also appointed by the court to probe the extent of the alleged infringement and a report was submitted.

Microsoft claimed the unauthorised installation and use of its software by the defendants amounted to unauthorised reproduction of its copyrighted software and consequently, resulting in infringement under Section 51 of the Copyright Act.

It also said that the defendants have a total of 130 installations of Microsoft’s software programs at their registered office, but only hold 46 bona fide licences for these programs.

“This form of corporate piracy is the most damaging form of software piracy affecting the plaintiffs,” the counsel for Microsoft said.

The court said the local commissioner found evidence of infringement on part of the defendants.

“The report of the local commissioner has remained unchallenged by the defendants.

“The report also found blatant attempts on part of the defendants to destroy evidence of infringement,” Justice Navin Chawla said.

The court also said the defendants have failed to show proof of genuine use of the plaintiff’s software programs for all the installations that were in use at their organisation.

Observing the above, the court awarded damages of Rs 20 lakh to Microsoft against the defendants.

“The plaintiffs are also entitled to receive the costs of the present proceedings,” the court said.

Under the provisions of the Copyright Act, 1957, the software programs developed and marketed by Microsoft would fall within the definition of ‘computer programs’ under Section 2(ffc) and are also included in the definition of a ‘literary work’ under Section 2(o) of the Act.

Meanwhile, the Supplementary User Instructions and Manuals supplied along with the software also fall within the ambit of ‘original literary works’ as contemplated under Section 2(o) read with Section 13(1)(a) of the Act.

Microsoft submitted that as both the USA and India are member countries of the Berne Convention, Universal Copyright Conventions and the World Trade Organization, the rights of authors in the US would be equally protected under Section 40 of the Act read with the International Copyright Order, 1999.

Microsoft was set up in 1975 under the laws of the State of Washington, United States of America, and is a global software publisher for personal and business computing.

The software products by Microsoft include operating systems for servers, personal computers and intelligent devices; server applications for distributed computing environments, information worker productivity applications and software development tools.

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