Geek Squad Hit With Restraining Order

Gosh, who’d have thunk a bunch of computer geeks might not purchase, well, every copy of software they use to conduct their business?

Well, it turns out Austin-based Winternals Software has been granted a temporary restraining order against Best Buy subsidiary Geek Squad over allegations Geek Squad has bee using pirated versions of Winternals’ data recovery software.

Winternals has filed suit against parent company Best Buy, alleging Geek Squad’s unlicensed use of Winternals software constitutes piracy and copyright infringement. According to Winternals, Geek Squad has knowingly an fraudulently used illegal copies of Winternals software (including ERD Commander 2005) to recover data and restore customers’ PCs. The software packages carry retail prices up to $1,200 per license.

Best Buy had apparently begun negotiations with Winternals over bulk licensing of Winternals software to Geek Squad’s estimated 12,000 employees. The companies had set up a “trial and test” agreement under which Winternals provided trial versions of its software and rained Geek Squad employees on its use. Winternals’ suit alleges that in February 2006, Best Buy told Winternals they were no longer interested in pursuing a license and broke off negotiations; however, Geek Squad employees continued to use Winternals software.

Best Buy has yet to publicly comment on the suit; in the meantime, the company has 20 days to provide all copies of Winternals software, plus provide all the who-when-and-where details of each copy. Winternals is suing for unspecified damages; a hearing is set for May 12, 2006 in Austin.