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Winternals Sues Best Buy

Texas software company alleges that Best Buy's Geek Squad subsidiary is using unlicensed copies of Winternals' diagnosis tools.

(Austin, Texas) -- Texas software company Winternals has filed a lawsuit against Best Buy Co. Inc. in federal court on Tuesday, alleging that the nation's largest consumer electronics retailer was using unlicensed versions of its diagnostic equipment.

In response, a U.S. District Court granted Winternals Software LP's request for a temporary restraining order.

In the lawsuit, Winternals alleges employees of Best Buy's computer-repair subsidiary, Geek Squad Inc., have been using pirated versions of the software since talks on a commercial licensing agreement broke off.

The suit accuses Best Buy and its subsidiaries of copyright infringement, circumvention of copyright infringement systems and misappropriation of trade secrets.

Best Buy officials did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.

According to the lawsuit, Winternals and Minnesota-based Best Buy began negotiating an agreement to use a Windows-based systems recovery and data protection software last fall. The lawsuit says Best Buy broke off negotiations in February, saying it was no longer interested in the commercial license.

Each software copy costs $1,200 and the two companies were negotiating a deal for bundled software worth several million dollars, said Winternals attorney David Weaver of Vinson & Elkins LP.

Winternals plans to seek an undetermined sum for damages, Weaver said.

A hearing has been set for May 12 in Austin.

Meanwhile, Best Buy has 20 days to provide all copies of the software, identify who used the software and where it was found, and explain how each copy was obtained or duplicated, according to the restraining order.

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Reader Comments:

Wed, Apr 26, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

I downloaded a copy of the geek tools cd recently, and their entire cd is obviously ripped off from Winternals and everyone else they could find. They even took the time to hack "geek squad" logos into all the programs... As someone already mentioned in a previous comment, anyone that trusts BestBuy with their computer gets exactly what they deserve.

Wed, Apr 19, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

Maybe Winternals should consider lowering that ridiculous price for their software. Linux recovery disks are a nice free option as a previous poster mentioned.

Tue, Apr 18, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

Does anyone really care!

Fri, Apr 14, 2006 Me Here

"Anyone care to comment on their reputation in the industry before and after this suit?"

Sure!

I think Winternals has pretty much committed professional suicide. They invented a licensing scheme (scam) that makes Bluebeard look like Mother Theresa and they have filed a very weak case against a corporation that hires lawyers by the gross.

Anything you can do with ERD can be done free with any of the current Linux recovery disks, so their products are no longer necessary.

They decided to play Nancy Drew instead of calling the SPA or the FBI, and they are going to pay for that with their company.

Fri, Apr 14, 2006 Dean Sumter SC

As a licensed owner of a Winternals product, all I can say is that I hope they (Winterals) prevails. Their excellent software has saved the day many times for me in my systems admin position. Well worth every penny.

Fri, Apr 14, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

Anybody that uses BBY/GS to fix their PC's gets what they deserve. BBS BS sales pitch(extended protection plans) given when you buy any computer product is got to be the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.

Thu, Apr 13, 2006 John Kaneohe, HI

Why does it matter if it has a big/public impact on BBY or Geek Squad? I don't think that's why the suit was filed - it's very simple - Winternals wants to be paid for the use of its software, and BBY/GS didn't want to pay what they were asking (probably trying to bully them into a dirt cheap bundled rate), but BBY/GS allegedly kept using the software anyway. For infringement by personal use, I think a lawsuit would be too much, but BBY & GS were making money from servicing computers with the technology in this software, so they should pay big time, and the courts should make an example of them.

Thu, Apr 13, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

Best Buy is so good at taking advantage of customers and their ignorance about computers that they will not suffer, or if they do, they will just raise prices. A local comsumer just was charged over $800 to clean virus files off their new $500 computer. Geek Squad said it could only clean one per day, so there were many $179 service calls. There ought to be fraud investigations there and class action suits. Consumers frustrations gives my store tons of new customers, so keep on doing what you are doing Best Buy!

Thu, Apr 13, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

I don't see it having a big impact myself. I honestly don't think the coverage will be widespread enough to reach the majority of consumers and anything that does leak out will be covered by Best Buys PR department. I also wonder how much the ordinary Best Buy consumer will care.

Wed, Apr 12, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

Anyone think that this will have any real effect on Geek Squad or BBY?
Anyone care to comment on their reputation in the industry before and after this suit?

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