Spanish police arrested 14 people on charges of intellectual piracy yesterday after discovering 3,000 forged copies of Microsoft's Windows XP Professional Edition software along with forged certificates of authentication.
The forged certificates are the first to be discovered for Windows XP PE and are believed to have been fabricated in the country, according to Microsoft Spain.
The software and more than 4,000 forged certificates were located in the north eastern city of San Sebastián. Some of the software was packaged with a certificate and manual, constituting a 'pack' that could be sold for between £175 and £300.
Altogether, Microsoft estimated that the pirated goods could have sold for as much as €1.2m (around £825,000) on the open market.
Spain has one of the highest incidences of software piracy in Western Europe after Greece, the software giant said, citing data from the BSA (Business Software Alliance).
The piracy raid conducted yesterday was particularly worrying since the software found was accompanied by forged certificates that would make the goods appear genuine to consumers, Microsoft said.
The BSA is currently working with Spain's Science and Technology Ministry on a campaign to raise awareness about the problem of piracy, saying that it is having a debilitating effect on the country's economy.