California’s attorney general has filed suit against two overseas apparel manufacturers, accusing them of using pirated software to produce and ship clothing in violation of the state’s unfair-competition law.

Pratibha Syntex Ltd., based in India, and China’s Ningbo Beyond Textile Co. Ltd. failed to pay licensing fees for software made by Adobe Systems Inc., Microsoft Inc., Symantec Corp. and others, according to separate complaints filed by Attorney General Kamala Harris on January 24 in Los Angeles County, Calif., Superior Court. Using pirated software allowed the companies to make and sell clothes more cheaply than their California competitors.

“Companies across the globe should be on notice that they will be held accountable in California for stealing our intellectual property,” Harris said in a prepared statement. “These lawsuits go after overseas companies whose unlawful actions are eroding California’s garment industry and placing California companies who legally pay for computer software at a disadvantage.”

Pratibha and Ningbo officials did not respond to requests for comment.

According to the complaints, Pratibha, which produces yarns, fabrics and garments, has shipped more than 19,000 pounds of apparel into California since 2010. Ningbo and its sister companies, which specialize in men’s suits, blazers, coats, jackets and fleece items, have shipped about 713,000 pounds.

The lawsuits argue that, besides the harm to direct competitors, piracy in the apparel industry has harmed California’s high-tech industries; Adobe is based in San Jose and Symantec in Mountain View. “Software firms, including firms in California, will have little incentive to invest in the research and development to innovate software for apparel manufacturers if they are not remunerated and the fruits of such investments are stolen,” the complaints says.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., sued Pratibha and one of its employees in India on December 21, 2011, alleging violation of Indian copyright laws, according to the California complaints. Then, on February 2, 2012, Microsoft sued Ningbo in China for violating Chinese copyright laws. In the course of its own litigation against both companies, Microsoft discovered that Ningbo had pirated Microsoft Windows XP Professional, Windows Server Enterprise, Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise and Microsoft Office software valued at $351,326, according to one complaint.

Microsoft alleged that Pratibha had pirated $389,098 worth of software, including Windows OS, Windows Server Enterprise, SQL Server Enterprise Processor, Office Professional, Project Professional, Windows Server CAL, and Visual Studio Premium w/MSDN, according to the other complaint.

The suits cite section 17200 of California’s Business and Professions Code, which provides for penalties of $2,500 for each violation.

According to the attorney general’s office, California’s apparel manufacturers, centered primarily in the Los Angeles area, employed more than 580,000 people last year and have generated more than $5 billion in annual revenues since 1990.

Contact Amanda Bronstad at abronstad@alm.com.