Microsoft sued over Bing trademark

December 21, 2009 | 10:19

Tags: #bing #copyright #trademark

Companies: #microsoft

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.
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