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Microsoft Sues Testing Materials Vendor

Microsoft has filed a federal lawsuit against testing materials vendor TestKing, alleging that the company is illegally selling the actual answers to its certification exams.

Microsoft has filed a federal lawsuit against testing materials vendor TestKing, alleging that the company is illegally selling the actual answers to its certification exams.

The suit, filed last week in Federal District Court in Seattle, claims that the "defendants have provided and are providing, without license or permission from Microsoft, the original copyrighted exam content from Microsoft Certification Exams."

Microsoft has always taken its certification programs seriously because it helps assure continued sales and proper support of its products. Apparently, according to the suit, TestKing is helping candidates cheat -- at Microsoft's expense.

"We guarantee that by using our Microsoft Exams training materials you will be prepared for your upcoming Microsoft Exam, and will pass on your first attempt," say claims on TestKing's site.

TestKing also operates other sites through which the company sells the infringing testing materials, according to the complaint. In fact, Web searches found several other, apparently related sites also selling similar test preparation materials.

The lawsuit claims multiple counts of copyright infringement and asks for a permanent injunction to stop TestKing from continuing to sell or distribute the materials. It also seeks damages. Additionally, Microsoft's attorneys asked the court to turn the Internet domain TestKing.com over to them.

TestKing's Web site lists a mailing address for a company named Certification Trendz Limited in the United Kingdom but no phone number, and the site does not identify the company's executives or management. Due to the inability to initially identify who runs the company, Microsoft issued what is called a "John Doe" lawsuit, with the defendants to be identified later.

On its site, TestKing claims to sell test training materials for a wide variety of different technology companies' certifications in addition to Microsoft's. Materials are also offered for products from Adobe, Apple, Checkpoint, Cisco, Citrix, Dell, IBM, HP, Symantec, Sun and Oracle. TestKing also offers preparation materials for some non-vendor certifications such as Certified Information Systems Security Professional and CompTIA A+.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which first reported the suit, has posted Microsoft's filing here [PDF].

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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