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Microsoft The Courts

Microsoft Sued Over Bing Trademark 191

Posted by Soulskill
from the trademark-trolls-abound dept.
mentus writes "Bing! Information Design, a design company from Missouri, is suing Microsoft over 'intentional interference' with their trademark and claiming Microsoft had knowledge of the trademark when it relaunched its rebranded search engine. Microsoft legal representative Kevin Kutz states that he believes the case will be dismissed and that Microsoft 'always respect[s] trademarks and other people's intellectual property, and look[s] forward to the next steps in the judicial process.'"
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Microsoft Sued Over Bing Trademark

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  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Monday December 21, 2009 @08:56AM (#30511460)

    I reserve my opinion until Mat Perry's declarations on the subject.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I reserve my opinion until Mat Perry's declarations on the subject.

      I reserve my opinion until I have your opinion.

    • by Kozz (7764)

      I must be having a case of the Mondays. It took me WAY too long to get that joke.

      • by Thanshin (1188877)

        I must be having a case of the Mondays. It took me WAY too long to get that joke.

        Probably a case of subconscious self preservation of sanity.

  • Trapped! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HNS-I (1119771) on Monday December 21, 2009 @08:57AM (#30511470)
    I wonder why people always start claiming their rights so late.

    However, a trademark application for the name was not filed until May - when rumours about Microsoft's new product had already spread widely across the internet.
    Microsoft, meanwhile, filed its own trademark applications for the name in March - for a variety of uses, including search engine software, interface software, advertising, telecoms and for "providing a website and website links to geographic information, map images and trip routing".

    Aren't you obliged to protect your mark? Seems to me they have nothing on MS.

    • Re:Trapped! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Rary (566291) on Monday December 21, 2009 @09:30AM (#30511796)

      I wonder why people always start claiming their rights so late.

      Because obtaining trademarks is costly and time-consuming, and because an unregistered trademarks is still a protected mark. This is a fairly small company who, until recently, probably found that an unregistered trademark was sufficient for them. Now that Microsoft has started using the name, they've decided they need to protect themselves further.

      Aren't you obliged to protect your mark?

      They are. They filed suit and began the process of registering their trademark. They've been using it since 2000, so they should have no problem getting the trademark, since the system is "first to use", not "first to file".

      • Don't you at least need to assert an unregistered trademark with "TM" somewhere? Nowhere on the "Bing! Information Design" web page do I see a "TM". How would MS have known that "Bing!" was a trademark if there was no assertion? And wouldn't "Bing!" be different than "Bing"?
        • by Fjandr (66656)

          No, it's not required to put "TM" next to a trademark. While it might be harder to enforce trademark protection with some unregistered marks, the use of the primary identification component of a company's name is relatively easy (the relative word is the important one here, not the "easy") to defend. Usually unregistered trademarks are delineated by area of geographical influence. In this case, if Bing! IS wins their suit, Microsoft would be prevented from using the trademark within Bing! IS's area of geogr

          • by Fjandr (66656)

            ID. Bing! ID. I apparently am not to be trusted with remembering simple things from one moment to the next. Carry on!

    • Re:Trapped! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by will_die (586523) on Monday December 21, 2009 @09:54AM (#30512068) Homepage
      You are required to protect your trademark but the two companies have the trademark for different items.
      THe company is sueing now because the amount of advertising Microsoft has put into the search engine Bing is causing confusion with the customers of the company that is sueing Bing. The time of the confusion is what would matter for the start of the lawsuit.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      More to the point, it would be *really* hard to prove consumer confusion between a design firm and a Internet search engine, even if they were aggressively defending their trademark.

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        More to the point, it would be *really* hard to prove consumer confusion between a design firm and a Internet search engine, even if they were aggressively defending their trademark.

        Yes, because an ad campaign of "Go to Bing for all your web needs" and "Go to Bing for all your web needs" would be completely unrelated. They are two "web services" that have the same name. And apparently Microsoft found out about the little one and decided they didn't have to act. They either predicted the suit and expect
    • The question is not legality it's how much will Micro$oft will pay to make it go away.
  • First time? (Score:5, Informative)

    by geekmux (1040042) on Monday December 21, 2009 @08:59AM (#30511492)

    Uh, did this lawyer just fall off the turnip truck or what? Hate to tell you this Skippy Suit, but this ain't the first time Big Daddy Desktop has been in a courtroom for shit like this.

    Microsoft definition of being "respectful" is cutting a check large enough to be bought out or go away.

  • From TFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Monday December 21, 2009 @08:59AM (#30511498)

    "...a trademark application for the name was not filed [by the plaintiff] until May - when rumours about Microsoft's new product had already spread widely across the internet."

    "Microsoft, meanwhile, filed its own trademark applications for the name in March - for a variety of uses, including search engine software, interface software, advertising, telecoms and for 'providing a website and website links to geographic information, map images and trip routing'."

    Says it all really. This company didn't even bother trying to establish trademark rights until two months after Microsoft, after news of the new engine had leaked. This screams trademark troll.

    • by vwjeff (709903)
      "...and look[s] forward to the next steps in the judicial process.'"

      Legal speak for, "we will crush you."
    • Re:From TFA (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ephemeriis (315124) on Monday December 21, 2009 @09:19AM (#30511682)

      Says it all really. This company didn't even bother trying to establish trademark rights until two months after Microsoft, after news of the new engine had leaked. This screams trademark troll.

      I know absolutely nothing about this case, so take my comments with as much salt as you feel necessary...

      But, just to play devil's advocate...

      It could also be that the company never felt the need to establish trademark rights until news of the new engine leaked. Perhaps this Bing! company was fairly unique in the area it does business in... And if anyone said Bing! they thought immediately of this company... But with Microsoft's re-branded search engine folks now think of Microsoft instead of this Bing! company.

    • Re:From TFA (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rary (566291) on Monday December 21, 2009 @09:36AM (#30511862)

      No, it doesn't really say anything. They were a small fish happily using the trademark for the past nine years without any trouble. There was no need for them to register the mark, which is still legally protected even without registration. Trademark registration is expensive and takes years to complete, so many small companies are content to use unregistered trademarks.

      However, now that Microsoft has stepped on their turf, they've decided they need additional protection, so they began the process of registering the mark. They should have no problem getting that registration since they likely have ample proof that they've been using it for nine years (marketing materials, print advertisements, maybe some TV commercials, etc).

  • Different fields (Score:4, Insightful)

    by l2718 (514756) on Monday December 21, 2009 @09:00AM (#30511502)
    Unless they are in the search-engine business, I'm not sure they have a trademark claim even if they were first. There is little likelihood of confusion after all.
    • by KarmaMB84 (743001)
      A soon as a Bing! Design ad hits Bing the search engine, the universe collapses on itself.
  • bing.biz (Score:2, Informative)

    by mbone (558574)

    Hmm. Microsoft got bing.com a while ago

    WHOIS results for bing.com
    Created on..............: 1996-01-28.

    The Wayback Machine shows the first Microsoft Bing.com site (Coming Soon!) in 2003.

    Now, Bing! is Bing.biz which is registererd (in Madeira, Portugal)
    Domain Registration Date: Wed Nov 07 00:01:00 GMT 2001

    and it says ion the web site

    Bing! is a small design firm started in 2000 in St. Louis, Mo.

    So, I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice, but it looks to me that Microsoft started thi

    • Re:bing.biz (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jimicus (737525) on Monday December 21, 2009 @09:19AM (#30511674)

      Hmm. Microsoft got bing.com a while ago

      WHOIS results for bing.com
      Created on..............: 1996-01-28.

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but surely all that means is someone registered it in 1996. It may have changed hands several times before being taken over by Microsoft.

    • Re:bing.biz (Score:4, Informative)

      by txsable (169665) on Monday December 21, 2009 @10:55AM (#30512708) Homepage

      Microsoft did not own bing.com until March 4, 2009 when the domain ownership changed from "Davryn Pty Ltd" in Melbourne, Australia to Microsoft. Since 2002 the name bing.com has had several owners, including some guy in Michigan, someone in Denver; Palo Alto, CA; was transferred to an Australian company in 2007 until MS bought it in 2009. So no, Microsoft does not have long-standing claims on the Bing name, at least based on their domain registration.

      (Reference: Domaintools.com Whois History records).

      • by mbone (558574)

        Interesting. The Wayback machine [archive.org] reveals that during the Australian Period bing.com was a "print your email out and snail mail it" utility.

        So, Microsoft could be in trouble, unless (which I doubt) there is a history of use in trade which someone kept track of and eventually sold to Microsoft.

  • Bing! and bing(TM) .. :)
  • More (Score:3, Funny)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Monday December 21, 2009 @09:56AM (#30512092)
    I hear Zombie Bing Crosby is none too pleased, either.
  • by Nemyst (1383049) on Monday December 21, 2009 @10:01AM (#30512124) Homepage
    Am I alone thinking that if this company wins their suit maybe Microsoft would actually rename their search engine to something not as cringeworthy?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Am I alone thinking that if this company wins their suit maybe Microsoft would actually rename their search engine to something not as cringeworthy?

      You're both alone and wrong. It's just a buggy, ad-ridden front end for the WolframAlpha [wolframalpha.com] search engine and serves as a distraction from what Microsoft Activist Icahn and his attack dogs started doing to Yahoo.

      After re-branding Live Search as "Bing", to leave the baggage associated with the old name, they also struck a deal so that Bing is a front-end for Wolfram Alpha [techcrunch.com] plus whatever Live Search might have had. So to get those results unmodified, you don't have to go through M$ filter, you can go straigh

    • by mbone (558574)

      I was told by a Microsoft engineer who should know that the Bing name was picked specifically because it could be used as a verb (as in, "I binged Nancy before I asked her out."). I had just made a joke on the (assumed) unfortunate closeness in sound of binging someone and banging someone. An awkward silence ensued, and he told me that was a feature, not a bug.

      All I can say is that they may not get out much.

  • Ah, I see you have the lawyer that sues Bing! He is my favorite. You see, he works on a contingency basis and that way it comes under the monthly current budget and not the capital account.

  • Frankly, I think it's too bad for these guys. If they felt they had such a distinctive identity they should have trademarked it sooner. They had 9 years to do so and didn't bother until Microsoft introduced their rebranded search engine. Being in the design industry myself, we've recommended clients trademark their identities a number of times. These guys, working in the same space should have realized the same for themselves.

    They don't even come up in the first 10 pages of a Google search so they apparentl

  • Since it is such an obvious case, it is clear that MS's only motivation to settle would be to avoid costs. Hopefully, MS sees the moral hazard in encouraging such blatant criminal behavior, and instead decides to counter sue.

    The very first complaint filed should be against the plaintiff's attorney, for failing to do due diligence. (This is a law in most states, I swear.)

  • One word (Score:4, Informative)

    by kimvette (919543) on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:03PM (#30514478) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft 'always respect[s] trademarks and other people's intellectual property,

    Stacker.

  • "Ned. Ryerson! Needlenose Ned, Ned the Head, come on buddy, Case Western High. Ned Ryerson, I did the whistling bellybutton trick at the high school talent show. Bing! Ned Ryerson, got the shingles real bad senior year, almost didn't graduate. Bing again! Ned Ryerson, I dated your sister Mary Pat a couple times til you told me not to anymore."

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