One of the universal truths about civil litigation is that you can’t get blood from a turnip. The old phrase refers to the practice of suing the “bigger fish,” such as suing the entire fast food chain for the actions of a lowly hourly wage employee, because being awarded a judgment does not actually mean the defendant will ever pay up.
That’s a lesson Microsoft should have learned a long time ago, but yet the company found itself in court once again trying to fight a known pirate who still owes the company well over $1 million. The company sued Anthony Boldin in 2000 and again in 2006 for piracy, and won the hefty (but unpaid) judgment. Now, the company has taken him back to court for additional piracy of its Office software, specifically the activation codes that Boldin was selling through various websites for far less than the company charges.
The irony is that activation codes were created specifically to fight piracy. When software came on floppy disks and CD-ROMs, they could be copied and shared with friends, or even sold in bulk. Now, you can copy that disk all you want; it won’t work without a valid key or activation code.
And that’s where Microsoft alleges Boldrin comes in. His multiple websites sell stolen activation codes, many of them traced all the way back to “falling off the truck” at a facility in China. Not only does the company want this practice stopped and investigated further, they want the damages for the sales of the codes and their back-owed judgment from their previous litigation against the defendant.
That’s one heck of a turnip, though. If Boldrin had that kind of money sitting around, he probably wouldn’t be selling activation codes online for cheap. Even if Microsoft successfully gets a judgment against him in this case, he’ll most likely just put it on his already enormous tab. Their efforts might be far better spent trying to find out what’s going on in their facilities that’s letting these codes fall out the door.