Microsoft Corp. files federal lawsuit against Florence business

The Microsoft Corporation is suing a Northern Kentucky electronics recycling business in federal court for copyright infringement, saying the locally owned business sold computers bearing unauthorized copies of Microsoft's Windows operating system.

The software giant also says Batton Industries LLC, based in Florence, used trademarked images, such as the Windows "colored flag design," without permission in marketing and advertising materials.

Microsoft is seeking an undetermined amount of damages, attorneys fees and a judge's order barring Batton Industries from selling computers with unauthorized software or using Microsoft trademarks.

"Microsoft has no adequate remedy at law for Defendants' wrongful conduct because, among other things, Microsoft's copyrights are unique and valuable property which have not readily determinable market value," the lawsuit said.

A message left with an assistant at Batton Industries on Wednesday was not immediately returned.

The company markets itself as an electronics recycler, information technology specialists and a computer and electronics wholesaler.

The lawsuit shows how seriously Microsoft, once the world's highest grossing company, protects its intellectual property. The company is now worth about $261 billion on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

According to the lawsuit, Microsoft sent Batton Industries a cease-and-desist letter on Dec. 16, 2011, after learning the Florence company was selling computers with pre-installed Windows XP operating systems.

"The computers sold by Defendants actually have infringing copies of Microsoft software installed," the lawsuit said. The lawsuit did not make clear if the copies of Windows XP were counterfeit or allegedly infringed Microsoft's rights some other way.

The following month, Microsoft sent an investigator to purchase computers at Batton Industries. Those computers were still installed with unauthorized software, the lawsuit said.

"On information and belief, this is not an isolated incident," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit is one of six such copyright infringement lawsuits filed in the Eastern District of Kentucky since 1995 in which Microsoft was a plaintiff.

The last lawsuit, filed in 2006, named Ashland computer reseller Affordable Computers as a defendant.