February 23, 2007 8:04 AM PST

Microsoft faces Office Live lawsuit

A company called Office Live said Friday it has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Microsoft over the software giant's use of "Office Live" for its on-demand productivity tools.

Office Live, which runs sites such as Legalofficelive.com, Realtorsofficelive.com and Accountantsofficelive.com, offers free professional advice to consumers and offers customer leads to businesses. The company is seeking an injunction to prevent Microsoft from using the "Office Live" name.

The lawsuit comes at a time when Microsoft is working to get its highly touted "Live" offerings established in the market.

In November, Microsoft's Internet-based business software, Office Live, became generally available in the U.S., with such features as customer management tools, e-mail accounts and Web site building and hosting.

Office Live, based in the Los Angeles area, registered the "Office Live" trademark in 2002. It initially filed its lawsuit against Microsoft in December in U.S. District Court in California but agreed to withhold serving the suit to allow the companies to pursue settlement negotiations.

When those talks broke down, Office Live served the software giant with a lawsuit earlier this month.

"It is shocking that Microsoft would have so little regard for another company's intellectual property rights that it would select a name belonging to another company," Lenny Targon, Office Live chief executive, said in a statement. "Online software may be the next big thing, but Microsoft has no right to use our trademark without permission."

"We don't think Office Live LLC has a trademark, or that we are infringing any rights asserted by Office Live LLC," a Microsoft representative said. "Now that the complaint has been served, we will vigorously defend our legal position. We also will seek to invalidate Office Live LLC's claim to trademark the phrase "Office Live" in its common connotation."

Microsoft said it views the word "Live" as a descriptor, such as in the case of "AOL Live" and "Vodafone Live," and has indicated that stance to Office Live LLC in previous discussions.

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It's shocking
"It is shocking that Microsoft would have so little regard for
another company's intellectual property rights"

Where has this guy been living for the last 20 some years? Since
when has MS cared about other companies rights? You don't
become as dominant as MS has without trampling all over other
peoples rights. Of course we all know why he is stating it like
this. The company lawyers smell big money in this one.

Not that I like MS, but we should really do something about the
proliferation of lawyers in this country.
Posted by protagonistic (1868 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I believe that Microsoft is as terrible about patent and trademark infringement as any company can be, but this isn't right. A company can only be held liable for trademark infringement if the products or services offered are similar enough to cause confusion in the market place. I highly doubt that anyone in the business world would mistake the flagship productivity suite for a small consulting firm.
Posted by dtrues (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
with that logic, any large company could swoop in and take over
a small company's trademark. Trademarks and Patents are
supposed to be designed to protect small companies from
exactly that.

Large companies cannot be allowed to just bully their way
around. If M$ want to use the name, then they should buy it.
Especially for small companies, why they didn't approach the
guy and buy it before ever announcing their product just goes to
show their level of arrogance. M$ thinks it can do whatever it
Posted by m.meister (278 comments )
Link Flag
I wondered...
I wondered when this was going to happen. When they started the service it was known that this company existed and owned the name. Seemed arrogant at the time, but I assumed that Microsoft thought they had some legal footing. I guess we'll see now if they do.
Posted by ogman (150 comments )
Reply Link Flag
iPhone anyone?
In these days of monikers used to help branding, you're bound to sidestep someone else. I say prevent these generic monikers like "i" and "e" and "live" from being trademarked in conjunction with anything else.
Posted by spacydog (380 comments )
Link Flag
Hey I have a solution....
Office Live should start using the name
Microsoft... then it will be even. Mmmmm I
doubt Mr. Gates would allow that... maybe I
should start my water softener company called
Microsoft Water Systems, hey we are not in the
same business.
Posted by cekortech (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Trademark Infringement
A commentary on Live describing a thing - Kind of like Windows? Anyone remember the hoo haw miKro$loth raised about Lindows - AKA Linspire? And those wern't even spelled or pronounced the same. If m$ was worried about consumer confuseion between a W and an L word then Office Live LLC certainly has room for worry about an identical name.
Posted by zclayton2 (130 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A play on words...
Microsoft, a couple years ago, actually took a guy down for having a website named MikeRoweSoft.com. His name? Mike Rowe. Microsoft's got a Trademark on your name.
Posted by binsurf (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"Common connotation"?
I'm glad to see Microsoft agrees that companies should not be able to use copyright to restrict people from using common words like WINDOWS.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That was the first thing that popped into my head.
Posted by befuddledms (113 comments )
Link Flag
I'm Thinking Of A Web Site...
Actually here are a few that I'll put out there for the collective... If you've got the time, register them have fun. It would be interesting to see how long any of these sites would be up before a letter from Microsoft's lawyers showed up. Feel free to include me in the credits... just don't name me as a co-defendant!

www.pornwindows.com - Porn images framed inside a variety of window frames.

www.windowvistas.com - Pictures of scenic "vistas" viewed through "windows."

www.deadwindowvistas.com - Pictures of strip mines, chernobyl, etc. "vistas," viewed through "windows."

www.balmywindowvista.com - Pictures of the back of a fat bald head in the foreground of a tropical "vista" viewed through various "windows." (double entendre)

etc. etc. etc.
Posted by westrajc (78 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Rolling on the floor
That was funny... I needed that after a long day.

I think Microsoft is simply wrong. I think that, deep down, so does Microsoft. After all, they do own the trademarks to "Xbox Live", "Windows Live", and even the word "Live"!

Posted by paulej (1261 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft mis using it's muscle again
It won the name game with Linspire when it was called Lindows. Now it is doing the opposite trying to us a name already taken by another company and it expects to get its way. Just like a 12 year old. Microsoft grow up.
Posted by donegan01 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
They Infringe on Trademarks Too!
That's funny that Office Live is suing Microsoft for trademark infringement because they are doing so themselves. REALTOR is a federally registered trademark of the National Association of REALTORS. I'm certain they do not have permission to use that mark for their web site address quoted in this story.

If you're going to throw stones at someone else, make sure you know you're standing on the moral high ground first.
Posted by aaronmd (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
not exactly
REALTOR may be a trademark; however, this does not mean that any word with the letter sequence, "REALTOR" is part of that trademark. Even MS does not own the sequence of letters "WINDOWS". It would be perfectly legit to have a business named, "WE-WASH-WINDOWS".
Posted by bamyers4az (1 comment )
Link Flag
Steve Gillmor says "Office Dead" is still available!
Wish the Gang would come back.
Posted by dotmike (154 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Put M.S before all Microsoft Products
Microsoft could avoid this Lawsuit and all others by keeping their products labeled with an MS before the title. Example MSOfficelive. Bill Gates, Scrooge, and Steve Ballmer have one thing in common. They are ******** of the Highest Order.
Microsoft entered into an agreement with Novell and agreed not to sue each other (but EVERYBODY ELSE) for discrepancies in Open Source licensing. This is their foot in the door to be a menace to anything "Free to use under Prior Art definition."
The expression "It's not enough for me to win, everybody else must lose" IS the Business Model for Microsoft's success.
Congress could be directly involved in correcting Patent Law, but they just continue to be political Limpdicks.
Posted by ctambour (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MS and legal
Microsoft has an entire Legal Department in Redmond filled with those lawyers, they are well aware that someone owns Office Live, but they have no regard over anyone else property rights, so they try it anyways.
Posted by RompStar_420 (772 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MS The 800 Pound Gorilla
When you are the 800 pound gorilla in the jungle everyone and everything has to move out of your way. Or else you just stomp them. This is nothing new and MS will never change.
Posted by Tlaloc (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag

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