Microsoft has sued beleaguered retailer Comet for allegedly creating and selling 94,000 illegal copies of Windows.
The complaint alleges that Comet Group PLC made and sold "more than 94,000 sets of counterfeit Windows Vista and Windows XP recovery CDs" to "unsuspecting customers".
Microsoft charges Comet with making the discs in a factory in Hampshire and selling them across the UK bundled with laptops and PCs loaded with Windows.
"As detailed in the complaint filed today, Comet produced and sold thousands of counterfeit Windows CDs to unsuspecting customers in the United Kingdom," said David Finn, associate general counsel at Microsoft. "Comet's actions were unfair to customers. We expect better from retailers of Microsoft products, and our customers deserve better, too."
Comet, which operates 250 stores in the UK, is currently owned by French retail company Kesa Electricals PLC, though a sale for just £2 to turnaround specialists OpCapita LLP is set to be completed later this year.
A spokesperson for Comet said:
"We note that proceedings have been issued by Microsoft Corporation against Comet relating to the creation of recovery discs by Comet on behalf of its customers.
"Comet has sought and received legal advice from leading counsel to support its view that the production of recovery discs did not infringe Microsoft’s intellectual property.
"Comet firmly believes that it acted in the very best interests of its customers. It believes its customers had been adversely affected by the decision to stop supplying recovery discs with each new Microsoft Operating System based computer. Accordingly Comet is satisfied that it has a good defence to the claim and will defend its position vigorously."
Microsoft said that customers should visit its website if they were concerned about piracy.