December 31, 1998 1:20 PM PST

Microsoft takes on "domain squatting"

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Microsoft is taking aim at two Texas men who registered domain names that use the word "microsoft."

The men registered the Internet domain names "microsoftwindows.com" and "microsoftoffice.com," and the software giant filed suit, alleging that the two men are infringing on the company's trademarks and misleading the public.

Microsoft characterizes the suit as part of its continuing stance against "cyber-squatting," a practice in which people register domains names desirable to large corporations, in hopes of later asking those corporations for big bucks to hand over the domain rights.

Microsoft, for its part, said it wouldn't be bullied.

"They wanted between $50,000 and $100,000 at one time," Microsoft spokesman Adam Sohn said. "The idea is that we weren't going to be subject to blackmail. This is of paramount importance to the industry."

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft is seeking undisclosed damages in the case, as well as ownership of the domains and any profits that were derived from them.

According to the suit, Kurtis K. Karr and Kenny Brewer, the accused, allegedly registered a long list of domain names with the intent to sell them. Among the names on that list were: AirborneExpress.com, AlamoRentaCar.com, CitibankMasterCard.com, HewlettPackardss.com, and Wall-Mart.com.

The legal action primarily is directed at protecting its intellectual property, a battle it has been fighting for some time, Microsoft said.

"The courts are applying traditional trademark principles to Internet domain names," Microsoft attorney Steve Aeschbacher said. "The case law on this subject is clear."

 

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