Ralph Blasek, a software dealer, was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in jail for copying and redistributing Microsoft's software, selling them at a higher price. He sold the software through his Dino-Soft software firm defrauding Microsoft of $5.5 million.

More than 32,000 copies of the pirated software was packaged, meant for schools and colleges. German authorities, helped by Microsoft during the investigation, said Blasek was a possible leader of Europe's largest software counterfeiting network.

"We applaud the decision as software counterfeiting is a serious crime" said Beatrice Delmas, director of Microsoft's legal and corporate affairs in Europe. "It undercuts honest competitors as well as robbing the local economy of thousands of jobs."