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November 10th, 1999

[3:00 PM] Microsoft Eats Its Own
by Staff

Observer Jim Mattson wrote us with a story that may not surprise many. Though an avid Mac user, Mr. Mattson has put together a web site called Microsoft vs. Kevin Boles. Mr. Boles is apparently a PC dealer in a small town of 600 in West Virginia. Microsoft has apparently sued Mr. Boles for distributing bootleg copies of Win 95 and Office 97. Mr. Mattson personally knows Mr. Boles and says it ain't so. He backs it up with a great story about how Mr. Boles works very hard to make their small community a better place.

According to a report in The Morgan Messenger, referred to in Mr. Mattson's web site:

A Berkeley Springs computer dealer has been sued by Microsoft Corporation for allegedly selling counterfeit software.

Kevin Boles and his company, Dynamic Solutions, LLC, were named as defendants in a lawsuit filed in U. S. District Court in Martinsburg last week.

The suit charges that Boles distributed counterfeit copies of Microsoft's Windows 95 and Office Pro 97 software programs.

The software giant alleges that Boles agreed to sell a personal computer system with an infringing copy of Office Pro 97 software in August, 1998.

Upon learning of this, Microsoft sent Boles a letter demanding that he cease and desist infringing on its copyright, according to the court documents

On June 25, 1999, a Microsoft investigator allegedly purchased "purported components" of Office Pro 97, which Microsoft found to be counterfeit. A month later, corporate officials notified Boles that he should stop illegally distributing their copyrighted products.

On August 12, an investigator again purchased purported Office Pro 97 and Windows 95 software, which Microsoft also found to be counterfeit, according to the suit.

The lawsuit does not address how the software was determined to be counterfeit, or how Boles may have acquired the products in the first place.

In the past few years, Morgan County schools have purchased numerous computers from Dynamic Solutions, based on the lowest bid received.

"We've been pleased with the equipment and service we've received from Dynamic Solutions," said School Superintendent Steve Paine.

Paine said school technology coordinator Curt Heldreth has assured him that all of the system's software programs are properly licensed.

Heldreth said Boles has "worked hand-in-glove with us to put together our technology program."

Heldreth said Boles has been a person he could count on and he's never had any question about his integrity.

The computers purchased from Dynamic Solutions have typically come with either Windows 95 or Windows 98 already installed. Each of those programs is licensed, said Heldreth. He felt certain that no problems exist with the software.

Mr. Mattson also has a glowing report of Mr. Boles at his web site:

Maybe Mr. Boles has us all buffaloed and he really isn't the decent, hardworking family man who spends much of his free time trying to better his community. Maybe he has unscrupulous goals of bilking this rural county out of their life savings. Yeah, and I'm the King of Spain. I grew up in Washington DC and I pride myself on my talent for spotting B...S... long before I step in it. If this guy is a crook, I really am the King of Spain!

And try as I might, I can't possibly visualize how the lawyers for Microsoft could think they're handling this properly. Instead of working with Kevin to help locate the origin of the counterfeit software, they decide to sue him. Rumor has it Microsoft hasn't even contacted Kevin's software distributor. At this point Kevin's best hope is to settle out of court for whatever Microsoft wants 'cause we know what going to court will cost him, his family, his business, and ultimately this extremely friendly mountain community. One would think the scandal alone is enough punishment for a mistake any of us could make. To think his energies will be sapped from all the goodwill he brings to Morgan County really makes me mad.

So go check out Mr. Mattson's site to get the full scoop on this story.

The Mac Observer Spin: We can't vouch for the character of Mr. Bole as we do not know anything about past hearsay. Microsoft certainly does have the right to protect itself against piracy, and Microsoft piracy runs at least as rampant as it does in the rest of the software industry. That said, it would seem that Microsoft is handling this situation with a one-size fits-all club. Just goes to show that Microsoft will eat even those foolish enough to support their platforms.

Microsoft vs. Kevin Boles

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