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Unicaresoft loses MSNLock case against Microsoft

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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. ®

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