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Inprise reports Q3 loss, consults legals on MS brand heist

AppCenter? Didn't we hear that name somewhere before?

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Inprise produced a net loss of $1.4 million (3 cents/share) in its Q3 reported yesterday, but less than the 10 cents loss of the First Call consensus. The Q3 revenue was up 17 per cent on the previous quarter, but at $46 million, 5 per cent down on the year-earlier quarter. The company is cash rich, with $179 million at the end of September. Dale Fuller, CEO and acting president after Dell Yocam was pushed out in March, said that Inprise was "continuing to execute on our plan to return to operational profitability." The market had no comment before the results were announced, with the share price closing unchanged. The quarter just reported benefited from the release of Delphi 5, but how Inprise will price the rapid application tool for Linux that it has under development could be a significant determinant of Inprise's income after it is released. Microsoft has grabbed Inprise's "AppCenter" trademark for Microsoft Windows DNA 2000 application manager server. With Microsoft supposedly being chums with Inprise again, it was hardly likely that Microsoft was unaware that Inprise was using the name AppCenter for its platform to manage CORBA, DCOM (and EJB from version 4 in December). Of course, Microsoft doesn't like cross-platform software, so when in September Microsoft pirated the name, was it done deliberately? Alternatively, it could have been corporate clumsiness by Microsoft, which is now large enough to fall over itself quite easily, in which case Microsoft should back down quickly and apologise. So far Inprise has only reached the stage of getting a trademark lawyer to look into the matter, it became known this week. This is far from being the first time that Microsoft has "accidentally" forgotten to check if a trade name it proposes to use has already been bagged. The last major instance was when it tried to use "PalmPC" for its CE devices. Not surprisingly, 3Com objected to this try-on and sued. For once, Microsoft agreed to settle and now uses the name palm-sized PCs. Inprise, formerly Borland, has suffered greatly from Microsoft's desire to annihilate it. In June, Microsoft inked a series of agreements as a result of which it paid Inprise $100 million for the right to use Inprise patents in Microsoft products, settle patent and licensing disputes, and purchase $25 million of Inprise stock. For its part, Inprise agreed to support Windows 2000 and license MFC and the Windows development kit. Previously Microsoft enticed key Borland staff to move to Microsoft, which was then the subject of litigation. It is rumoured that the money used to acquire Visigenics in March 1998 may have come from a separate out-of-court settlement the previous year. ®

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