Microsoft is suing a recycling company it hires to to destroy old products, alleging one of the contractor’s employees stole millions of dollars worth of Office software licenses and subsequently sold them on the black market.
Since Microsoft had entrusted Global Electronic Recycling with the safekeeping of the products until they could be destroyed, Microsoft argues GER is on the hook for the copyright damages it will suffer, according to the lawsuit filed earlier this week.
Microsoft has worked with GER since 2009 as part of an effort to dispose of unused and obsolete hardware and software, and do it in an environmentally friendly way. These were often valuable products that the company was taking out of circulation for one reason or another, so GER agreed to store Microsoft’s material in secure facilities until it could be rendered unusable.
But Microsoft alleges at least one of GER’s employees stole 70,000 product key cards for Microsoft Office 2010. The cards are meant to be used to authenticate and turn on software that was paid for, but they can now be used to activate illegal versions.
“[GER’s] failure to secure and protect Microsoft’s product keys cards resulted in the theft, illegal distribution, and subsequent activation of tens of thousands of copies of pirated and unlicensed Microsoft Office software worth millions of dollars,” Microsoft alleged in the court filing.
Microsoft is asking the courts to order GER to pay for whatever losses the company will suffer as a result of the theft and copyright infringement.
Both Microsoft and GER have not yet responded to requests for comment.