Small design firm sues Microsoft over Bing name

Microsoft Bing logoA small design firm by the name of Bing! Information Design has filed a lawsuit against Microsoft for naming its search engine Bing.

A small St. Louis company is suing Microsoft for using the name "Bing" without permission for its recently launched search engine. Bing! Information Design LLC v. Microsoft Corporation was filed on December 16, 2009 in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis and alleges "trademark infringement, unfair competition, and tortious interference with business expectancy." The small company claims it has been using the Bing name since 2000 and has applications pending to register the trademark, while Microsoft only launched Bing in May 2009.

Bing! Information Design says it uses the Internet, search engines, and its webpage as its primary sources of advertising and promotion for its interactive and computer-related illustrations, designs, interactive graphics, animations, technical diagrams, and related services. Since Microsoft heavily advertises and promotes its Bing search engine, Bing! Information Design believes it has a case. In its lawsuit, the St. Louis company 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," according to The Simon Law Firm, which is representing the company. Further, Bing! insists that Microsoft knew of the company's name before it launched Bing the search engine, and thus the plaintiff is seeking "actual and punitive damages, including having Microsoft pay for corrective advertising to remedy the confusion it caused."

Microsoft is not worried. "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," a Microsoft spokesperson told Ars. "We have not been served with a 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."

Bing! Information Design may have a hard time convincing the court that Bing, the search engine, might be confused with Bing, the design firm. When it comes to trademarks, two companies in completely different markets are typically allowed to use the same name. Still, the design firm's slogan is apparently "We make complex ideas easy to understand" so maybe they'll pull it off.

Source: ars technica

Tags: Bing, Microsoft

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