Microsoft has filed 26 lawsuits against alleged dealers of pirated software in seven U.S. states, the company said Tuesday. Microsoft claims the companies sold pirated software or computers loaded with pirated software.The suits were filed in federal courts against companies in Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and South Carolina. They are intended to protect Microsoft\u2019s software revenue and its reseller partners, who stand to lose business when users buy pirated software, the company said.Microsoft gathered evidence against the defendants through several means. In some cases, complaints were received through Microsoft\u2019s antipiracy hotline. In others, Microsoft purchased computers from the defendants as part of a "secret shopper" program to find dealers selling pirated software.The Business Software Alliance (BSA), an industry group backed by several software companies, including Microsoft, reported in May that 21 percent of software sold in the United States\u00a0is pirated. That rate is the lowest in the world, according to a BSA list of the 20 countries with the lowest piracy rates.Further details of the BSA report on software piracy are available online.-Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service (Beijing Bureau)This article is posted on our Microsoft Informer page.\u00a0For more news on the Redmond, Wash.-based powerhouse, keep checking in. Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.