Microsoft Sued Over 'Office Live' Name

Update ribbon (small)

2:00 pm ET February 23, 2006 - BetaNews has received comments from both Microsoft and Office Live, LLC regarding the trademark suit.

Microsoft spokesperson Jack Evans told BetaNews that it felt that Office Live had no trademark on the name, and it would seek to have its claims invalidated in “its common connotation."

“We told Office Live LLC as much when the first contacted us a year ago. We detailed other common uses of “live” as a descriptor, citing examples such as “AOL Live,” “Vodaphone Live,” “XBOX Live,” and “WTP Live.,” he said.

“Clearly, if anyone is seeking to gain from the name of another company’s products, it’s the plaintiffs in this case. Microsoft Office has been in the marketplace substantially longer than any of plaintiffs’ product offerings,” Evans continued.

However, Office Live, LLC sees it quite differently. Company spokesperson John Gorman said that the term has been in use since the inception of the company’s website in February 2001. It informed Microsoft of the infringement in February 2006.

He also repudiated Microsoft’s claims that Live was merely a discriptor: “The USPTO examiner considered and rejected the position that the mark is merely ‘descriptive’ and concluded that it was entitled to protection,” Gorman pointed out.

Both sides declined to discuss the nature of settlement proceedings due to a confidentiality agreement, although Gorman described the offers as “quite far apart.”

BetaNews will continue to follow this story, and update it as it develops.

Microsoft is again finding itself in legal hot water, this time over the use of the "Live" branding on its online office products.

A company called Office Live filed a trademark lawsuit against Microsoft on Friday, asking for an injunction to prevent the Redmond giant from using the mark on its suite of online office and web applications for businesses.

Office Live has held the trademark since 2002, according to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office filings. A suit was filed back in December in a U.S. District Court in California, however it was put on hold pending the result of negotiations.

When talks broke down, the company decided to proceed with the suit. If successful, the action could cause Microsoft more headaches in what has increasingly become a difficult branding environment for its "Live" products.

Several Live products have been re-branded under the company's "MSN" mark, while others have been eliminated due to lack of interest from consumers, or duplication with preexisting Microsoft services.

Microsoft's argument to separate its own product from that of the company of the same name could be quite difficult.

Office Live's Web site describes the product as the following: "Office Live provides business to consumer portals that give consumers free access to quality professional content and advice while providing professional organizations with web-enabled virtual office and marketing services."

It could be argued that Microsoft Office Live does much of the same functions, strengthening the company's case for an injunction.

"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," Office Live CEO Lenny Targon said in a statement.

A request for comment from Microsoft was outstanding as of press time.

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