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Trying to convince the world that “Binging” things on the Internet is as catchy as “Googling” is challenging enough, but now Microsoft will need to fight for the right to keep its name. Bing! Information Design LLC has filed a suit against Microsoft in the Circuit Court of St. Louis alleging, “trademark infringement, unfair competition, and tortuous interference with business expectancy”. Bing! Information design claims they have been using the trademark since early 2000, while Microsoft only began using it around 6 months ago.
The lawsuit is seeking “actual and punitive damages” since Bing! claims Microsoft knew of the design company long before launching its search engine, and therefore is also asking the judge to grant funds for corrective advertising to remedy the confusion they have caused. Legally, companies that are in different industries are generally allowed to have similar names, but Bing! claims that because it makes heavy use of the Internet and search engine advertising, they have a valid complaint.
A Microsoft spokesperson responded to Ars Technica on the issue, and they don’t seem to be all that concerned about it at this point. “We believe this suit to be without merit and we do not believe there is any confusion in the marketplace with regards to the complaint, but are aware of the suit based on media reports. We respect trademarks and other people’s intellectual property, and look forward to the next steps in the judicial process”. Its possible to pick a fight with them on these grounds after they got caught red handed stealing source code from the open source community, but at least they made good in the end.
Is Bing! Information Design just after some free publicity?