Bing! vs. Bing

A small-time graphics design firm takes on Microsoft for trademark infringement

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Looks like more lawyer fees for super-litigious Microsoft. The software goliath is being sued for trademark infringement by a small Missouri company over the word "Bing." The St. Louis-based graphic design firm registered the trademark "Bing!" in 2000, long before Microsoft launched its search engine of the same name (minus the exclamation point of course). The firm says "Microsoft's use of the name dilutes the value of it and confuses the public about the companies' relationship to each other." It wants to sue for "actual and punitive damages including having Microsoft pay for corrective advertising to remedy the confusion it caused."

But Microsoft doesn't sound scared. In a statement to tech blogs Ars Technica, a Microsoft spokesman said:

We believe this suit to be without merit and we do not believe there is any confusion in the marketplace with regard to the complainant's offerings and Microsoft's Bing. We have not been served with a complaint, but are aware of the suit based on media reports. We respect trademarks and other people's intellectual property, and look forward to the next steps in the judicial process.

Tech bloggers have responded to the news with a playful curiosity:

  • Tut-Tut, rebukes Ernie Smith at Short Form Blog: "Microsoft appar­ently doesn't check trade­marks before they go with names."
  • Finally Someone Sues Microsoft, writes a facetious Sebastian Anthony at Download Squad: "It's the kind of news that warms me in both weird and wonderful ways. First, it reminds us all that capitalism is working as intended -- then it also reminds me just how much I love living in a non-litigious country like the United Kingdom. Bing!(tm) isn't even in the same sector as the same-sans-exclamation-named search engine -- they do graphic frickin' design."
  • Can Little Bing! Pull This Off? wonders Emil Protalinski at Ars Technica: "When it comes to trademarks, two companies in completely different markets are typically allowed to use the same name. Still, the design firm's slogan is apparently 'We make complex ideas easy to understand' so maybe they'll pull it off."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.