Microsoft Corporation sued Nevada-based Cheap Tech Guys LLC last week for trademark and copyright infringement over its alleged sale of unlicensed Microsoft software products. The complaint for injunctive relief and damages claimed that Cheap Tech Guys sells “decoupled product keys,” and directs its customers to download and activate counterfeit copies of Microsoft software.
The filing argued that Cheap Tech Guys “is a prolific distributor of black market Microsoft product activation keys for Microsoft software which it unlawfully advertises to consumers as genuine Microsoft software.” The complaint explained that in 2019 and 2020, Microsoft investigators purchased software from the defendant’s website, cheaptechguys.com.
Reportedly, Cheap Tech Guys supplied the plaintiff’s investigators with decoupled product keys that neither it nor its customers were licensed to use to install the advertised software program, and a link to an unauthorized Microsoft download site for installation. As a result, the filing contended, Cheap Tech Guys “willfully contributes to the infringement of Microsoft’s copyright-protected software by directing its customers to download and activate unlicensed copies of Microsoft software.”
Further, Microsoft asserted, Cheap Tech Guys uses its trademarks and trade dress in its promotional and sales materials without authorization “to deceive consumers about the characteristics, origin, and authenticity of the software.” Microsoft claimed that the defendant’s misuse and theft of its intellectual property harms consumers and the software trade, in addition to its own brand.
In turn, Microsoft is seeking an order permanently enjoining Cheap Tech Guys from further sales of decoupled product keys and an award of monetary damages to address the intellectual property infringement and other violations of the law.