Symantec Awarded $21 Million In Counterfeit Distribution Lawsuit

"We view [the ruling] as a big step in protecting our consumers from purchasing counterfeit software," said Scott Minden, Symantec legal department director. "It clearly disrupted the ability to sell counterfeit in North America."

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles issued a default judgment in favor of Symantec against ANYI, SILI, Mark Ma, Mike Lee, John Zhang, Yee Sha, and other related defendants when they "failed to plead or otherwise defend" against charges that included trademark and copyright infringement, fraud, unfair competition and false advertising. Symantec officials said that the defendants appeared to have left the country.

The Cupertino-based Symantec initially filed a series of civil lawsuits in December 2006 as well as January and February 2007 against ANYI, SILI, Yee Sha and their affiliates. The final district court ruling ordered that the defendants pay damages for imitating and illegally selling the security vendor's products, which included Norton System Works, Norton AntiVirus, Ghost, LiveUpdate, Norton Utilities, pcAnywhere, Veritas, Backup Exec, GoBack, PartitionMagic and the Symantec name and logo.

Symantec legal experts said that the piracy ring had been selling the counterfeit merchandise illegally over the past five years through channels such as Ebay and other online Web sites. This particular counterfeit syndicate was the largest the company had encountered over the past several years, company officials maintained.

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Over the course of the investigation, Symantec worked in cooperation with several other law enforcement agencies, which included the FBI and the Chinese Ministry of Public Security. The collaborative effort ultimately led to the arrest of Mark Ma in Shenzhen by Chinese authorities in July.

"Having this judgment gives us a very effective means of ensuring these folks don't come back to the United States," said Minden, who maintained that the company was "very encouraged by everything that the Chinese law enforcement had done" to contribute to the arrests.

Since then, the company said that it had seen a decline in the number of attempts to counterfeit its software.

"We think it sends a strong message to the criminal counterfeit community," said Minden. "This is potentially what you can be faced with, a judgment of this magnitude."

While the exact dollar amount of sold counterfeit goods was unable to be determined, Symantec officials estimate that their own financial losses likely amounted to tens of millions of dollars.

The U.S. District Attorney's office did not immediately return calls from CRN.