The ringleaders of what Microsoft have described as "the world's largest software counterfeiting syndicate" have been jailed by the Futian People's Court in Shenzhen, China.
Sentences of up to six and a half years were handed to the 11 software pirates, some of the longest sentences ever given in China for a crime of this nature. It is estimated that $2 billion worth of fake Microsoft software was produced and distributed by the gang across 36 countries. This included counterfeit versions of 19 Microsoft products in at least 11 languages.
The pirates were arrested in July 2007 after being tracked down by China's Public Security Bureau and the FBI, with help from Microsoft and its customers and partners. By using the company's Genuine Advantage tool, tens of thousands of users were able to identify their software as fake and action by Microsoft resellers also helped to further the investigation.
Christophe Zimmermann, the coordinator of the fight against counterfeiting and piracy at the World Customs Organization, said "The action today by the court in China sends a very clear message to counterfeiters that governments around the world are serious about stopping this form of criminality and are willing to step forward to protect their citizens from the harm caused by counterfeit goods."