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Microsoft sued over Bing trademark

Microsoft sued over Bing trademark

Microsoft is facing a Christmas lawsuit over the Bing trademark.

Microsoft has found itself embroiled in a legal battle over its Bing search engine - and it's a real David vs. Goliath battle.

The claim has come from a small St. Louis-based web design company called - you've probably guessed by now - Bing Information Design! (yes, the exclamation mark is part of their name) that it holds the right to use the Bing name on the net, and that Microsoft owes it some serious money in compensation for trying to steal the name.

The lawsuit - quoted over at CNet - specifically states that Microsoft's new search engine sees to cause "confusion with regard to the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant, confuses the public with regard to the origin of the plaintiff's services and dilutes the value of the plaintiff's trademark."

The suit seeks "actual and punitive damages" that could run into the millions, including forcing Microsoft to "pay for corrective advertising to remedy the confusion it caused."

The Bing Information Design! site itself - which at the time of writing had been rendered unusable by an unholy Slashdotting - bears little resemblance to Microsoft's search offering, which is going to make any claims of confusion or passing off harder to swallow, unless the company has some hidden evidence as to lost earnings through customer confusion. Indeed, it's hard to imagine just how customers could get confused between the two: they'll be disappointed if they're looking for web design from Microsoft's search engine, and equally disenchanted if they're trying to find new and exciting websites via the St. Louis web design company.

For its part, Microsoft has described the suit to Ars Technica as absolutely "without merit and we do not believe there is any confusion in the marketplace with regard to the complainants offerings and Microsoft's Bing."

Do you side with the little guy here - after all, they've been using the name since 2000 - or is it just a case of a small company trying to win big at the game of 'sue the guy with the deepest pockets?' Share your thoughts over in the forums.

16 Comments

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MaverickWill 21st December 2009, 11:34 Quote
Well, Microsoft Bing is a search engine.

Other Bing is an (for want of a better expression) art company. They're not web designers. They're designers, who happen to have a website.

This is a publicity thing, I reckon, and if Microsoft decide to counter-sue, it could be curtains...
huddy 21st December 2009, 11:34 Quote
The producers of Friends are also thinking of suing for using the surname of one of their characters.

The owners of Bing Crosby's estate are also considering their position on the matter.
alpaca 21st December 2009, 11:44 Quote
i think it's a 'sue the guy with the most media attention' case
DarkLord7854 21st December 2009, 11:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaverickWill
This is a publicity thing, I reckon, and if Microsoft decide to counter-sue, it could be curtains...

I hope they do, teach em a lesson.
mclean007 21st December 2009, 12:38 Quote
I think it's a well calculated exercise in hitching a cheap ride on Microsoft's marketing bandwagon - for a few thousand bucks in legal fees, these guys are getting their name out there in a big way, so much so that their site was the victim of "an unholy Slashdotting". Smart, opportunistic move. I'd be shocked if they don't drop this the minute the media furore dies down and MS responds, as is customary, by burying the little guy under a mountain of paperwork so large that the fees would cripple it before it even got to trial. I'm sure MS has a whole division of its legal army dedicated to taking care of irritations such as this.
lacuna 21st December 2009, 13:01 Quote
Reminds me of Bill Gates' appearance in The Simpsons: "Buy him out boys"
Xir 21st December 2009, 16:13 Quote
...on a similar account Gmail isn't called Gmail in Germany ;)
(There's an existing company in the mail business that's been using Gmail a lot longer)
RichCreedy 21st December 2009, 16:58 Quote
they should have bought bing.com, and any other form of bing.??? domain names if they wanted sole use, it's another lets join the 'sue microsoft' gang.
TobyKing1982 21st December 2009, 18:50 Quote
With the financial muscle Microsoft have that bing software designers seem to have been given very bad legal advice!!
2bdetermine 21st December 2009, 21:23 Quote
Money pretty much was the motive. Since the whole world slave to money.
LordPyrinc 22nd December 2009, 01:19 Quote
If the company suing was simply named Bing without any other words in the company name I could see a lawsuit, but one word? Come on. This is a frivolous lawsuit and perhaps a publicity stunt. Never had heard of the company until now.
delriogw 22nd December 2009, 02:03 Quote
in fairness - judging by their website, the company are called Bing! and the Information Design is an addition to the name to explain what they do.. their site is named only bing and their icon at the top of the site (whilst pathetically basic) is simply Bing!.

pre microsofts search site, any search for bing would probably bring up their site. (if one could somehow ignore crosby and friends of course)
pullmyfoot 22nd December 2009, 03:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordPyrinc
Come on. This is a frivolous lawsuit and perhaps a publicity stunt. [B]Never had heard of the company until now[B].

thats the point
rickysio 22nd December 2009, 06:28 Quote
Rename Bing to Bong, and profit.
sub routine 22nd December 2009, 08:48 Quote
spot the difference competiton:-



bing

bing information design!
RichCreedy 22nd December 2009, 12:12 Quote
i still ask why didnt they buy bing.com instead of just bing.biz
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