A small technology firm sued Microsoft this week over the software giant’s choice of name for its new search engine.
The smaller firm, Bing! Information Design, claims in its lawsuit, filed on Wednesday in St. Louis, that Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Bing search engine violates its trademark on the use of the word ‘Bing.’
Bing! Information Design’s suit says that it has used Bing in its name since at least 2000, while Microsoft has officially only been using Bing as the name of its search engine since late May 2009.
The firm’s suit accuses Microsoft of “trademark infringement, unfair competition and tortious interference with business expectancy,” according to a statement released by the St. Louis company’s law firm.
“Bing! Information Design is an Internet-related company that creates interactive and computer-related illustrations, designs, interactive graphics, animations, technical diagrams and related services,” the firm’s statement said.
“The St. Louis-based company has used the mark Bing! since at least 2000 and has applications pending to register the mark,” the statement continued, adding that the company uses the Internet, search engines, and its Web page as its primary sources of advertising and promotion.
The suit claims that Microsoft’s use of the word Bing confuses the marketplace and that the software giant knew, prior to using the Bing mark, of Bing! Information Design’s pre-existing claims to its use.
“My client selected this unique mark to distinguish itself in the marketplace and invested substantial time and effort promoting its business using Bing!. Microsoft’s use of the identical mark and its aggressive advertising have gutted all of my client’s efforts to distinguish its business and created confusion that must be remedied,” Anthony Simon, principle at The Simon Law Firm which represents the smaller firm, said in a statement.
For its part, Microsoft said it has not yet been served with the lawsuit but that, from media reports, believes the suit is without merit.
“We do not believe there is any confusion in the marketplace with regard to the complainant’s offerings and Microsoft’s Bing. We respect trademarks and other people’s intellectual property, and look forward to the next steps in the judicial process,” Kevin Kutz, a Microsoft spokesperson, said in a statement e-mailed to InternetNews.com.
It’s not the first time that Microsoft has been embroiled in trademark litigation. In 2004, Microsoft sued Linux vendor Lindows.com, claiming that “Lindows” violated Microsoft’s trademark on “Windows.”
Microsoft eventually paid Lindows.com $20 million to change its name.
A spokesperson for The Simon Law Firm was not available to discuss the case at press time.