updated 9/19/2005 10:53:53 PM ET 2005-09-20T02:53:53

Microsoft Corp. on Monday said it is suing eight companies for allegedly distributing counterfeit software and other proprietary products.

The software behemoth called the lawsuits "a last, but effective, resort" to combat purported piracy.

Microsoft said the lawsuits rely on consumer leads. Buyers can verify the authenticity of a Microsoft product online and report fakes through an anti-piracy hot line, 1-800-RU-LEGIT. (MSNBC is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)

One of the lawsuits, against online distributor MicroCity4Less, stemmed from consumer reports, and charges the company sold counterfeit versions of Windows XP Professional.

Through its Web site, MicroCity4Less sells a variety of Microsoft products such as Windows 2000 advanced server and Visual Studio Pro V6. The company did not immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

Two of the other lawsuits — against BWT Industry Technology Service Inc. and Ion Technologies Corp. — allege violation of previous settlement agreements with Microsoft. Microsoft also names in its lawsuits Data Day USA Inc., Winvtech Solutions Inc., Global Computing Inc., Compustar Co. and Chips & Techs.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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