Microsoft is lobbying for new state laws that would allow the software giant to sue US companies for doing business with foreign entities using pirated software. Instead of pursuing overseas suppliers for running unauthorized programs, Redmond wants to punish domestic firms with penalties including a sales injunction on the item in question as well as financial damages. Highlighting the madness of Microsoft's proposal, Groklaw offers
the following scenario:
"If a company overseas uses a pirated version of Excel, let's say, keeping track of how many parts it has shipped or whatever, and then sends some parts to General Motors or any large company to incorporate into the finished product, Microsoft can sue *not the overseas supplier* but General Motors, for unfair competition. So can the state's Attorney General." Supposedly, the item could be anything -- even something as trivial as a nut or bolt in a product.
This seems like a misguided way to handle overseas infringement and it's facing opposition from companies including Intel, HP, Dell and IBM. Despite its lunacy, the state of Louisiana passed a similar law last year titled the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law
. The Washington state Senate and House have also approved different versions of the bill, which are currently being merged for final approval. Oregon is also contemplating the proposal.