The conviction of e-waste recycler Eric Lundren in the United States has raised a debate in the tech industry. Microsoft has been at the center of the debate because Lundgren was imprisoned under federal law for infringing the company's intellectual property. In response, Microsoft has issued a statement of defense.
Last week, an appeals court upheld a decision for Eric Lundgren to serve 15 months in prison. As an e-waste advocate, Lundgren says his goal was simply to encourage people to safely recycle PCs and use refurbished hardware.
He denied wrongdoing throughout the case, but Microsoft insists Lundgren purposely misled people. While there is a side of the debate supporting Microsoft, the other side say the pursuit of Lundgren through courts means the company does not support e-waste recycling.
In response, Corporate Video President of Communications, Frank X. Shaw said the company is committed to recycling. However, he said Microsoft will also defend its IP and customers:
“We fully support refurbishing and recycling of computers and have robust programs to support this. There are many individuals and companies who do great work here. We have programs that support refurbishers. Altogether these programs have more than 3,000 members, recycling millions of PCs.
While we've cut back substantially on the number and types of piracy cases that we bring, we remain committed to protecting our customers when we see others working to deceive them – especially when they're acting unlawfully. We often pursue actions, for example, against phone scammers who masquerade as technical support to trick and defraud customers. We similarly remain concerned when counterfeiters seek to deceive consumers, even more so when they're seeking to profit from this activity.”
Pursuit of Profit
In the blog post, Shaw points out there are aspects of the Eric Lundgren case that suggest he was misleading customers. He also says the case against Lundgren was not filed by Microsoft and there is evidence he created an “elaborate counterfeit supply chain”.
“Lundgren traveled extensively in China to set up a production line and designed counterfeit molds for Microsoft software to unlawfully manufacture counterfeit discs in significant volumes,” Microsoft said.
“The counterfeit discs obtained by Lundgren were sold to refurbishers in the US for his personal profit and Lundgren and his codefendant both pleaded guilty to federal felony crimes.”
Microsoft also says Lundgren was working for profit, which would be illegal and pled guilty in court during the first ruling. The company closed by saying it has an in-house division for refurbishing hardware and works with hundreds of legitimate recyclers.