Lothian scammer sued by Microsoft

SOFTWARE giant Microsoft is suing a Lothian businessman convicted of selling pirate versions of its software on eBay.

The company is seeking more than 180,000 in damages from Iqbal Ahmed after he admitted five charges of peddling counterfeit goods on the internet auction site.

Ahmed, 31, of Inchwood Avenue in Bathgate, also faces being ordered by the court to reveal the names and addresses of those who supplied him with the fake software.

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A judge had already frozen Ahmed's assets, which include a number of properties, before a ruling on the damages.

The case was called again yesterday at the Court of Session in Edinburgh as Microsoft continued its bid to recover damages for lost royalties on sales.

Ahmed was fined 19,500 under the Proceeds of Crime Act last March after pleading guilty at Linlithgow Sheriff Court to charges under the Trade Marks Act. The counterfeit goods included 600 copies of Microsoft Windows XP software, 1800 fake Epson print cartridges and 50 fake Hewlett Packard print cartridges.

Ahmed, who was also sentenced to 160 hours of community service, has since paid the fine but his lawyers are now fighting Microsoft's action.

The case followed a tip-off from customs officers and involved a joint operation by West Lothian Council Trading Standards, Lothian and Borders Police, Central Scotland Police, Microsoft and Epson.

Ahmed was the sole director of Cybertech 2000 Ltd, a firm based in Camelon, Falkirk, which was raided by trading standards officers in May 2006, along with Ahmed's home. A total of 540 fake Microsoft products were recovered during the operation.

The raids followed seizures in 2005 at East Midlands Airport and a FedEx facility in Anchorage, Alaska, of counterfeit Microsoft products being shipped to Ahmed.

A later investigation found that Ahmed sold fake software on eBay.

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Lawyers for Microsoft said it was alerted to the scam when several people who bought Ahmed's fakes contacted the firm to complain.

The firm is seeking 79,000 from lost royalties on 443 counterfeit products sold by him on eBay. The rest of the damages claim comes from lost royalties on the fake goods found at Ahmed's home and business, and from 18,229 profits found in his internet payment company account.

In papers submitted to the court, Microsoft's lawyers said that Ahmed admitted to having 203,000 available during the Proceeds of Crime action, along with an outstanding tax bill of 81,000.

The papers said Ahmed owned a "number of heritable properties".

The company also wants the court to order Ahmed to disclose the name and address of "each producer, manafacturer, distributor or supplier" of the fake goods ordered by him.

Ahmed's lawyers are fighting the action by arguing that Microsoft "did not suffer loss and damage as a result of any infringement of their trademark", and that the amount of damages was not "reasonable estimates of any loss".

A spokeswoman for Ahmed said their client did not want to comment. A spokeswoman for Microsoft said the firm was unable to comment while legal proceedings were continuing.