Microsoft today sued a U.K. electronics retail chain for selling Windows recovery discs to customers, claiming that the practice amounts to piracy.

Comet Group PLC, which operates about 250 stores in the U.K., countered, saying it believed it was on solid legal ground.

Microsoft filed suit in the High Court of London today against Comet, accusing it of illegally copying Windows XP and Vista to create operating system recovery discs. The alleged pirated copies were sold to customers who had purchased Windows desktop and laptops in 2008 and 2009, Microsoft said.

"Comet approached tens of thousands of customers who had bought PCs with the necessary recovery software already on the hard drive, and offered to sell them unnecessary recovery discs for 14.99," said David Finn, associate general counsel with Microsoft's anti-piracy legal team, in an emailed statement Wednesday.

At current exchange rates, 14.99 (pounds) is equivalent to $23.50.

"Not only was the recovery software already provided on the hard drive by the computer manufacturer but, if the customer so desired, a recovery disc could also have been obtained by the customer from the PC manufacturer for free or a minimal amount," Finn added.

Full story: Computerworld