Microsoft has described them as "ringleaders of the world’s largest software-counterfeiting syndicate," but on New Year’s Eve the 11 men convicted of counterfeiting Microsoft software became numbers, as they were given jail sentences of between one-and-a-half and six-and-a-half years after being found guilty of counterfeiting, supposedly the longest sentences for the crime in Chinese history.
They reportedly distributed over $2 billion in fake Microsoft software before being identified in a joint operation between the FBI and the Chinese Public Security Bureau, leading to a series of arrests in July 2007, according to ZDNet. In a statement, Microsoft said that "evidence provided by Microsoft customers through the Microsoft [Windows Genuine Advantage] piracy reporting tool proved to be essential in tracking down this criminal syndicate."
Microsoft’s vice president for the Greater China region, Fengming Liu, said:
"We will continue to work with the relevant authorities in China to ensure that counterfeit software does not undermine the development of China’s knowledge economy."
The company is pumping more than $1 billion into research and development in the country.