The Delhi High Court has fined Microsoft for harassing alleged software pirates by taking them to court in the national capitol, instead of the cities where the crimes had supposedly occurred. According to the ruling, using money as a power tool is not condoned without repercussions.
To protect its intellectual property, Microsoft recently sued four software pirates who allegedly used the company’s software without permission. However, the outcome of this action was quite unexpected.
The Delhi High Court decided to fine the software giant, after it found out that the cases the company had initiated in India’s capital were related to alleged copyright infringements that occurred in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chandigarh and Mumbai.
According to the Court, Microsoft is needlessly abusing its unlimited cash flow as a power tool to financially hurt the defendants, who will have to travel all across the country in order to defend themselves. This abuse of “money power” to “harass” defendants is unacceptable according to the Court.
“When the constitution of India provides equality before law, this equality has to be all pervasive and cannot be allowed to be diluted because of money power or lobbying power,” Judge Dhingra commented on the case.
Aside from the harassment angle, the Court found that Microsoft chose Delhi because the High Court can order compensation up to $40,000 for the alleged crimes.
However, instead of taking on the case directly, the court chose to fine Microsoft $4,000 for each of the four defendants instead. If it turns out that the software piracy claims are unfounded, this money will go directly to the accused. In addition, Microsoft was ordered to pay a local commissioner who will investigate the piracy claims.
Although it was not illegal for Microsoft to file the four cases in the national capital where the company is headquartered, the Court found that something had to be done to prevent shear abuse of power by the software giant.
“On the strength of its money power it [Microsoft] has the added advantage of choosing a court of its own liking which is so far away from the defendant that it becomes problematic and a harassment for the defendant to contest the suit itself,” the Delhi High Court ruling read.