There is a right way and a wrong way to go after those who infringe on your Intellectual Property or counterfeit your products. Hurting those who bought the fake product is the wrong way to go. Microsoft learned that lesson log ago when they used the Windows Genuine Advantage(WGA) to shut down features of Windows Vista if the program found the operation system was a counterfeit software copy. After user back lash, as many did not know they bought a fake installation dvd, and concerns the program was acting like spyware, Microsoft changed WGA to just nag the user with popups that the operating system they are using may not be genuine.
Future Technology Devices International, like Microsoft, is engaged in the battle against counterfeiters. In the battle against them, they decided it was best to brick users whose chips they found were counterfeit. Users are mad as this update was automatic through Windows Update, thus disabling their USB device without warning. Counterfeit chips, like all fake products, are bought all the time through channels believed to sell the real item. So it is unfair to target the consumer for something they did not know they bought. This only encourages the consumer or any buyer to think twice about buying again from this company and also enabling automatic updates.
A driver update from the Scottish electronics firm FTDI that intentionally “bricked” USB devices with counterfeit FTDI chips has been removed from Windows Update by the firm. The move follows an uproar from users who found devices they thought used the company’s chips disabled without warning. However, the company plans on re-releasing the update with code that “will still uphold our stance against devices that are not genuine, but do so in a non-invasive way that means there is no risk of end user’s hardware being directly affected,” the company’s CEO said in a statement.
While the changes made in the firmware of chips affected by the driver’s counter-counterfeiting code can be reversed, there are questions about whether what FTDI did in the name of protecting the company’s intellectual property was ethical—or even legal. Commenting on FTDI’s driver tactics through Twitter, American Civil Liberties Union principal technologist Christopher Soghoian said, “It isn’t a stretch to view FTDI’s intentional bricking of chips as an unfair business practice.” Others were concerned that the move undermined the security of Windows’ automatic update system, possibly discouraging users from applying security updates in the future.
In a post to the company’s blog, FTDI CEO Fred Dart apologized for the move.
So what is the best way to let users know their product is not real?
I believe the Microsoft way is best. Not the original way the WGA program worked, but the way it does now. First, the update is no longer forced through Microsoft, and the update is now by default unchecked when running Windows Update. That way, you must actually click to download that update which installs WGA. So even if a user downloads this program, and the program finds the operation system to be not real, all the program does is make the wallpaper black, and makes a annoying popup that reminds you that this version of Windows is not genuine. The internet is full of posts on forums where users claim they did not know the operation system was fake when they bought it.