Anti-virus and computer security software-maker Symantec Corp. on Wednesday said it was suing eight companies, including a Canadian firm, for a total of $55 million US for alleged software counterfeiting.

Symantec alleges in filings in U.S. District Court in California that the businesses are guilty of trademark infringement, copyright infringement, fraud, unfair competition, trafficking in counterfeit labels and documentation, and false advertising.

The software company is seeking between $4 million US and $10 million in damages in individual claims for a total of $55 million.

Defendants in Symantec lawsuits
  • Acortech (California)
  • mPlus (California)
  • Logical Plus (New York)
  • SoftwareOutlets.com (Florida)
  • Rowcal Distribution (California)
  • Global Impact, Inc. (Florida)
  • Directron.com (Texas)
  • eDirect Software (Canada)

Symantec is also seeking a permanent injunction in each of the lawsuits to block the companies named from selling "unauthorized Symantec products" and to surrender all alleged counterfeits of Symantec goods.

The company is seeking a jury trial in each of the cases.

"The threat posed by … software pirates to users and the safety of their personal and financial online information cannot be overstated," Scott Minden, director of Symantec's legal affairs, said in a statement.

"Counterfeit software might not work properly and damage a user's machine, or it can be loaded with identity-theft programs. Counterfeit software also may not be able to receive automatic updates and, as a result, leave the user vulnerable to new online threats."

Canadian company named in lawsuit

In a news release about the lawsuit, Symantecnamed eight companies, including a Canadian defendant, identified as "eDirect Software."

A March 27U.S. Federal District Court filing by Symantec lists several individuals and Alberta companies as defendants: EDirectSoftware, Jesse Willms, Michael Callaway, 1016363 Alberta LTD., 1021018 Alberta LTD., DOES 1-10 and Linda Willms.

When CBC News Online called an Edmonton-area phone number for a company named Edirect Software, the receptionist transferred the call to a man she identified as a manager. The man who answered identified himself as "Jesse."

"I don't want to comment on that," Jesse said when asked about the Symantec lawsuit and allegations.

The line was then disconnected, and several more calls to the same number were immediately disconnected.

Microsoft lawsuit settled for $1 million US

Microsoft Corp., in an April 3 statement about alleged international software smuggling of its discounted software marked for education uses, said it had settled a dispute with an online retailer named EDirectSoftware.com.

"EDirectSoftware.com, one of the largest offenders, has already agreed to settle Microsoft's lawsuit out of court for more than $1 million in cash and property," the Microsoft statement said.

Microsoft released a separate statement that named the defendants and specified the settlement terms.

"Microsoft Corporation recently settled a lawsuit against eDirectSoftware, a Canadian partnership, and Jesse Willms, Linda Willms, Dave Willms, Canadian corporation 1016363 Alberta Ltd., and Canadian corporation 1021018 Alberta Ltd. operating in Billings, Montana, and Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada,"the statement said. Sherwood Park is an Edmonton suburb.

"The defendants paid Microsoft over $1.0 million in cash and property and agreed to a court-ordered injunction prohibiting future sales of infringing Microsoft products. Additionally, the Court ordered the impoundment of more than 50,000 copies of infringing software that will be destroyed as part of the settlement."

Records search reveals matching details

An internet domain record search for "EDirectSoftware.com" lists Jesse Willms and Linda Willms ascontacts for the domain. The record also shows a street address in Billings, Mont., and an Edmonton-area fax number.

A toll-free number also listed in the record connects callers to a voicemail message that asks them to direct inquiries to the same e-mail address published in the domain record. The address is the same one given by the voicemail system at the company where "Jesse" spoke to CBC News Online.