MSNLock case against Microsoft
David and Goliath
Microsoft has won its case against Dutch 46-year-old mother of three Carola Eppink, who wanted to restrict her children's use of the internet by using a self-made program she'd dubbed MSNLock.
Microsoft sued her company Unicaresoft to prevent the letters MSN being used in the name of the product. Although the product name had already been changed to Benzoy, Microsoft still demanded all the domain names related to the product. Unicaresoft also has to pay Microsoft's legal fees of €18,000.
"This is ridiculous," Unicaresoft CEO Gerard Ghazarian told The Register. "In court we showed that Microsoft hasn't prevented the use of the name MSN in many other websites, including sex sites. They promised to take action, but two weeks later all of these sites are still there. They singled us out because our product limits the use of MSN, which makes money by advertising. We are a small company, it is just David and Goliath."
In a statement this morning, Microsoft country manager Jacqueline Smit denies her company was after the product. "We defend our trademarks rigorously, we always have done that. We encourage products that help parents limit internet use of their children, we offer those products ourselves."
Eppink's lawyer Marc de Boer, of Boekx Advocaten, earlier insisted that the use of the name MSNLock was within the law: "The name simply clarifies the intention of the product. What's more, MSN messaging has become a generic term for chatting."
The Dutch version of Oxford English Dictionary, Van Dale, also mentions MSN as a generic term meaning to contact someone via an instant messenger.
Two weeks ago, Microsoft called for the verb to be erased from the Dutch dictionary in order to stop the use of MSN by other companies as a brand name. ®
Famous Search Engine
The "Feedback" page from the magazine "New Scientist" never uses the G-word for the same reason (they got some nastygram from corporate legal), they always describe it as "a famous search engine".
If this MSN-thing happened to me the (renamed) code would go open-source so fast that it would make certain corporate heads swim.
Its all about branding, so the way to stop branding in its tracks is never to use the brand name or any of the band logos.
It's not still called MSN Messenger, though, is it?
All this talk of "MSN" relating to instant messaging and defending of Microsoft's branding of their IM client seems to be a bit pointless now.
I'm not surprised that the Dutch firm have renamed the product - haven't Microsoft re-branded Messenger as "Windows Live Messenger" and dropped the association with the letters "MSN" altogether? Just like,
MSN Search = Live Search,
MSN Passport = Windows Live ID,
MSN Hotmail = Windows Live Hotmail.
Only the portal/service provision retains the MSN branding and that's not what the product was locking.
Like the time that they tried to copyright the word "Windows", they've got just as little a chance with "Live".
@counting the days
They tried to get "Windows" as a brandname years ago.
@Dutch version: Van Dale is a dictionary in it's own right and not a version of the OED.
Maybe the author wanted to compare it to something similar in English.
PH - 'cause she has both in her library