Symantec sued what it describes as a U.S.-based counterfeiting operation on Wednesday, claiming that a network of six businesses made $15 million selling fake versions of popular Symantec software.
The suit comes after a two-year investigation by the company. According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the counterfeiters used the Norton, Veritas and Symantec (nasdaq: SYMC – news – people ) trademarks to mislead customers, typically selling fake software for $20 to $40 per program. Symantec is seeking $15 million in punitive damages.
The suit named Anyi Group, Sili, ASP Solutions, GT Micro and their affiliates as defendants.
The company says “law enforcement” officials seized more than 180,000 pirated discs during Symantec’s investigation, including bogus versions of Norton AntiVirus and Internet Security. The company claims that some of the counterfeit software reported users’ personal information back to the sellers.
“Aside from the financial loss incurred by this activity, counterfeit software can also damage a user’s operating system due to faulty code or cause a user’s system to be wracked with security vulnerabilities,” said Joseph Fitzgerald, Symantec’s vice president of intellectual property and deputy general counsel, in a statement.
This suit is not Symantec’s first legal strike against counterfeiters. In October 2003, a U.S. District Court in Oregon awarded the company more than $10 million in damages against CD Micro. Last year, Symantec won a $3.1 million judgment against accused pirate Sam Jain. Twenty-two percent of all software sold in North America is fake, according to a May study by IDC and the Business Software Alliance.