Taiwan seizes largest-ever counterfeiting ring

Dec 19, 2003 Ι Industry In-Focus Ι Furniture Ι By Ken, CENS
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Taipei, Dec. 19, 2003 (CENS)--Taiwan's police this Wednesday seized the largest-ever illegal copy group which has reproduced over NT$10 billion (US$294 million at US$1:NT$34) worth of patented computer software including Microsoft's Windows operating systems.

The island's Criminal Investigation Bureau under the Ministry of the Interior Wednesday announced the seizure in cooperation with policy authorities in Brazil, Canada, Honk Kong and mainland China.

The counterfeiting gang has operated for a long time. But due to lack of direct evidences against the gang, Microsoft Taiwan's legal unit did not inform the bureau until July this year. Kingpins of this criminal group are Taiwanese, the bureau said.

A man surnamed Chen is reportedly suspected as the leader of the group. The group is headquartered in Hsindian of Taipei County, northern Taiwan, under the disguise of a supplier of computer peripherals, and opened branches in Shanghai, Shenzheng and Humen of mainland China. He had cooperated with manufacturers of laser labeling, disk and ink cartridges in Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan. The unauthorized products have been shipped to Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Britain, Germany, Israel and Australia.

Microsoft's leader in charge of international investigation, Brian William, commented the illegal copies as "extremely quality counterfeiting," which even Microsoft's experts could hardly identify.

The bureau estimated the criminal group has operated for 10 years and sold at least NT$10 billion worth of illegal software including Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Office2000, and Norton Anti Virus software as well as hardware ink cartridges for HP and Epson printers.

The bureau pointed out that many end users and enterprises have mistaken the counterfeited wares as genuine copies and bought them. It reminded that Microsoft never sells laser labels and serial numbers of its software alone.
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