RealTime IT News

Microsoft Cuts Deal With Engadget

Microsoft is backing down from a cease-and-desist letter it sent to Engadget.com, a blog site that Redmond officials say ran stolen content previewing Windows Mobile 2005.

Peter Rojas, Engadget's editor and co-founder, confirmed the news Wednesday, saying only that the issue has been resolved. He would not provide any further comment on a situation that had Microsoft sending legal threats to bloggers who ran with information and a screenshot of an upcoming version of Microsoft's mobile operating system.

Microsoft officials were not available for comment at press time.

Earlier this month, Neowin.net ran a story and accompanying screenshot of the new technology on its Web site. The story was wildly distributed and syndicated by other Windows- and technology-enthusiast sites before Microsoft was able get the site to shut down the link. The company convinced many bloggers to immediately remove their stories, claiming the information was stolen from their servers and hinting at legal repercussions.

While many bloggers received e-mail warnings that their site was infringing on Microsoft's proprietary knowledge, Engadget's publisher, Jason Calacanis of Weblogs, Inc., received a formal letter from the law firm Covington & Burling on Jan. 18 saying he would be held liable for trademark infringement unless a screenshot showing the Windows Mobile 2005 UI accompanying the story wasn't taken down.

A report by the Industry Standard attributes Calacanis as saying "we have been talking to the people at Microsoft and we've basically worked it out," he said. "We're not making any changes to the article."

What this means to sites like Neowin.net, the site which originally broke the news, and the many others bloggers who syndicated Neowin.net's story and removed it at Microsoft's behest, remains to be seen.

All David Ciccone, owner of the Dave's iPaq blog, knows is that he still can't publish the information on his site, despite Engadget's deal with Microsoft.

The company also directed him to take down the Windows Mobile 2005 story and screenshot, but was told that just because Engadget was able to make arrangements with Microsoft didn't mean he could replace the story.

He said he called the lawyer who sent him the e-mail notice to take the story down. He claims the lawyer told him that Engadget.com was able to broker a deal with Microsoft through Robert Scoble, a Microsoft employee who authors the popular Scobleizer blog.

Calacanis, in a blog post last week about the cease-and-desist letter, appealed to Scoble to intervene. A subsequent post by Calacanis on Jan. 21 thanked Scoble for introducing him to the people in Microsoft's mobile group to work out the issue.

"It sounds to me like selective discrimination, and the main reason I'm saying that is because certain sites have more leeway than others because they have relationships with Microsoft," he said.

Ciccone doesn't plan on putting his story back on the site, as tempted as he is by the thought.

"This is something I've worked very hard for for the last four years to establish, and I can't, obviously, afford to lose it, because Microsoft's got the bigger attorneys," he said.