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‘Restore disc’ scheme lands e-cycling businessman in jail

United States: An e-scrap innovator from California is going to a federal prison for 15 months after a judge ruled his ‘restore disc’ scheme had infringed on Microsoft to the tune of US$ 700 000. Entrepreneur Eric Lundgren (33) had pleaded guilty but maintained the discs he made had ‘zero’ value and were meant to give crashed computers sitting at a refurbisher’s workshop a new lease of life.

Lundgren became well known in the e-scrap sector after building an electric car from discarded parts, with the vehicle easily outperforming a brand new Tesla based on a single charge. His company IT Asset Partners recycles over 41 million lb (more than 18 000 tonnes) of e-scrap annually, catering to big clients such as IBM, Motorola and Sprint.

Now it seems that one of his projects wasn’t such a good idea after all. Lundgren observed that many consumers lose or throw out the disc capable of rebooting a computer if it crashes. Despite the fact that the software is available as a free download on the Windows website, consumers generally dump malfunctioning computers and simply buy new ones.

28 000 discs

So Lundgren decided to have 28 000 so-called ‘restore discs’ made – for use solely with a PC that already has a valid Microsoft licence. Together with a broker in Florida, Robert Wolff, he planned to sell them to US refurbishers at 25 cents apiece.

Lundgren argued this would save the refurbishers from having to make their own restore discs while helping to extend the lifespan of second-hand computers. But back in 2012, a US customs officer got his hands on a restore disc shipment.

None of the discs had been sold at this point but an investigation quickly followed. Both Lundgren and his Florida partner were indicted on a charge of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and criminal copyright infringement. The discs were ruled to have a value of around US$ 25, way lower than the US$ 299 initially reported.

‘This is a difficult sentencing – you are a very remarkable person,’ US district judge Daniel Hurley told Lundgren in court on April 11. On top of his 15-month prison sentence, Lundgren will have to pay a US$ 50 000 fine.

‘E-waste epidemic’

‘I am going to prison, and I’ve accepted it,’ comments Lundgren. ‘What I’m not OK with is people not understanding why I’m going to prison. Hopefully my story can shine some light on the e-waste epidemic we have in the United States, how wasteful we are. At what point do people stand up and say something? I didn’t say something, I just did it.’

Source: The LA Times

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