updated 4/11/2005 9:36:10 AM ET 2005-04-11T13:36:10

Microsoft Corp., the largest software maker in the world, on Monday said it filed lawsuits against eight computer system builders and resellers alleging distribution of counterfeit, illicit and unlicensed software and components.

The company claims the companies distributed counterfeit versions of Windows and Office.

Microsoft said the lawsuits result from a test purchase program started in 1997 to ensure the distribution of legitimate software. Under the program, the company buys software, components or computer systems and tests the products for authenticity. (MSNBC is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture.)

"Our partners are coming to us and asking for our help," said Bonnie MacNaughton, senior attorney at Microsoft, in a statement. "They are being undercut and forced out of business by having to compete with dishonest PC manufacturers and resellers who continue to sell illegitimate software. That isn't fair to our partners or to the customers who depend on them."

The lawsuits were filed against Abacus Computer Corp., Anaheim, Calif.; Avantek Inc., Orlando, Fla.; First E-Commerce, Austin, Texas; M&S Computer Products Inc., Boonton, N.J.; Micro Excell Inc., Gadsden, Ala.; Odyssey Computers, Pasadena, Md.; Signature PC, Warwick, R.I.; and Technology One, Los Angeles.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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