updated 10/31/2006 7:57:40 AM ET 2006-10-31T12:57:40

Software giant Microsoft said on Tuesday it had started 55 legal actions against counterfeit software dealers around the world, its largest enforcement effort to date.

"Today's announcement marks ... the first time the company has focused its efforts worldwide to bring legal action against online dealers," The U.S.-based software company said in a statement.

The 55 legal actions include 15 in the United States, 10 in Germany, 10 in the Netherlands, five in France and five in the United Kingdom, as well as proceedings in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Korea, Mexico and Poland.

The cases are against sellers who allegedly have misused their eBay or other on-line auction site accounts to sell counterfeit software.

Microsoft said it had sent warnings for infringing behavior to many of the defendants before taking the legal action.

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