Microsoft has been targeted in a lawsuit by a small St. Louis tech company, Bing Information Design, which argues that the name of Microsoft's Bing search engine infringes on its copyright. Bing Information Design says it has been using the Bing name since 2000. Microsoft has been involved in a number of lawsuits in 2009, as plaintiff or defendant.
finds itself the target of a lawsuit from a small St.
Louis tech company that says it was using
"Bing" as a trademark as far back as 2000, nine years before Microsoft named its
Bing Information Design filed the case against Microsoft in the Circuit
Court of the City of St. Louis on
Dec. 16, alleging unfair competition and copyright infringement. Attorneys for Bing
Information Design claim the
company has been using the Bing moniker for nearly a decade, and that
Microsoft knew of the company's name before deciding to title its search
Bing Information Design "alleges that the name causes 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," said a Dec. 17 news release by
The Simon Law Firm, which is representing the smaller company. "The suit
seeks actual and punitive damages including having Microsoft pay for corrective
advertising to remedy the confusion it caused."
Microsoft responded in an e-mail to eWEEK that it had only heard of the
lawsuit through the media.
"We have not been served with a complaint, but are aware of the suit
based on media reports," wrote Kevin Kutz, a Microsoft spokesperson.
"We believe this suit to be without merit and we do not believe there is
any confusion in the marketplace with regard to the complainant's offerings and
Microsoft's Bing. We respect trademarks and other people's intellectual
property, and look forward to the next steps in the judicial process."
As is not unusual for a large corporation, Microsoft has found itself in a
number of legal battles over the course of 2009. Over the summer, i4i, a small
Toronto-based company, sued Microsoft alleging a patent violation in Microsoft
Word. The original verdict of that case, passed down by a U.S. District Court
judge in Texas, would have forced
Microsoft to pull copies of Microsoft Word 2003 and Microsoft Word 2007 from
store shelves within 60 days.
was later allowed to keep selling Word during the legal proceedings.
Another small software company, Uniloc, based in Irvine,
Calif., sued Microsoft in 2006 for
allegedly violating its product-activation patent, winning damages of $388
October, however, a court overturned that case on appeal.
In addition to being the target of lawsuits, Microsoft
has also filed a few of its own. On Sept. 18, the company announced that it
was filing suits against five entities that it accused of spreading
"malvertising," or online advertising used to distribute malware.
That followed an earlier civil lawsuit filed by Microsoft's Internet Safety
Enforcement Team aiming to end what was described as a massive click-fraud
Editor's Note: This story has been updated with a comment
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.