Microsoft sues vendors of activation keys

An activation key is not a valid software license. Microsoft is now confirming this with a new lawsuit in Washington.

Microsoft has filed a lawsuit against a Canadian company that sells activation keys for Microsoft products without valid software license sold to unsuspecting customers. This example shows once again that many people are not aware that a working activation key is far from being a valid license.

Software licenses from Microsoft are never cheap

Companies like Microsoft have spent decades developing modern software and dominate large parts of the software market. In some business and educational environments, the use of Microsoft products is therefore mandatory. For compatibility reasons alone, there is often little room for alternatives.

In the search for a fair price, consumers therefore often resort to discounted product keys, which are offered by various retailers on Ebay, for example. What the buyers are often not aware of is that these offers usually do not include any valid licenses. So they are no more legal than pirated copies of platforms like “The Pirate Bay“. Anyone who thinks they can purchase a legal Windows license for less than 10€ is usually on the wrong track.

In a complaint in a Washington court, Microsoft is now targeting the Canadian company “The Search People Enterprises Ltd (TPSE)“. This traded in activation keys and tokens for Microsoft products. It falsely gave its buyers the impression that these were official software licenses from Microsoft.

Activation keys are not licenses

It is important for the end user to understand that Microsoft does not sell any software. The company only sells licenses that allow the user to use the software subject to the terms and conditions. Regardless of whether it is Microsoft Office or any version of the Windows operating system, these are always subject to clearly defined license conditions.

The activation keys that Microsoft issues for its products are nothing more than an anti- piracy tool. Anyone who buys such a key does not acquire a license with it. And activating the software with such a key is just plain illegal without a purchased license.

Because the activation keys can be decoupled from the software and then reused, a global black market has developed where unsuspecting consumers use them Buy keys and mistakenly believe they automatically have a license as well.

Microsoft prefers to prosecute the merchants rather than the deceived customers

But even if Microsoft could legally prosecute affected consumers, the software specialist has so far been more interested in making the dealers involved liable for piracy and misleading their customers.

From the According to Microsoft’s complaint provided by TorrentFreak, the accused Canadian company TPSE illegally sold activation keys through the websites,, and Customers were sent links to download the associated software. These linked directly to Microsoft’s websites or to portals with fake copies.

Microsoft itself made a number of test purchases to analyze the process in detail. According to its own statements, the group is entitled to claim back the damage actually caused by the actions of the accused. In addition, the software company sees their brand violated, since TPSE used their product logos to advertise the activation keys sold.


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