A Beijing court has ordered Microsoft Corp. to stop selling some versions of its Windows operating system in China in a licensing dispute with a local supplier.
The order Monday said Microsoft exceeded its rights under licensing agreements with Zhongyi Electronic Ltd., a Beijing company that developed Chinese character fonts used in the software.
Microsoft must stop selling versions of Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 with Zhongyi's fonts, the Beijing People's No. 1 Intermediate Court said in its ruling, a copy of which was released by Zhongyi.
Microsoft said it would appeal.
"Microsoft respects intellectual property rights. We use third party IPs only when we have a legitimate right to do so," the company said in a statement. "We believe our license agreements with the plaintiff cover our use of the fonts."
Microsoft did not respond to a question about what proportion of its products sold in China use Zhongyi fonts or how many copies might be affected.
Zhongyi said its agreement with Microsoft allowed the Seattle-based software producer to use its fonts only in Windows 95 and they were added to later products without permission.
China is a leading source of pirated copies of software, movies and other goods and its government has long been accused of failing to do enough to stop the thriving underground industry.
China's small but ambitious technology companies say they are among the biggest victims of piracy and are turning to the courts to help defend their intellectual property.
In December, a group of 11 people who were convicted of selling unlicensed copies of Microsoft software were sentenced by a Chinese court to up to 6 1/2 years in prison.
On the Net:
Zhongyi Electronic Ltd.: http://www.china-e.com.cn/en/profile/ZhongYiProfile.htm
Microsoft Corp.: http://www.microsoft.com