Microsoft Corp is shortly to begin yet another distracting litigation procedure, this time over its right to use the name Internet Explorer. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday on the case brought by a small – and now bankrupt – software company out of Downers Grove, Illinois that as of tomorrow, June 30 was to […]
Microsoft Corp is shortly to begin yet another distracting litigation procedure, this time over its right to use the name Internet Explorer. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday on the case brought by a small – and now bankrupt – software company out of Downers Grove, Illinois that as of tomorrow, June 30 was to own the trademark rights to Internet Explorer. Tomorrow also signals the start of a civil case brought against Microsoft by SyNet Inc’s founder, Dhiren Rana, in which he alleges that Microsoft stole the name. The court case in Chicago has resulted in the temporary suspension of the trademark award to Rana, whose company is now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Rana launched SyNet, an ISP, back in 1994, but it folded three years later and he sought bankruptcy protection, in part because of his legal bills. The company’s website still offers Internet Explorer – a package that includes a browser, dial-up access, collaboration tools and calendaring. The fact that Internet Explorer is trademarked to SyNet is emphasized repeatedly throughout the site. Microsoft’s defense rests on the premise that the term Internet Explorer is generic and therefore not subject to a trademark. We wonder if Microsoft’s position would be the same if the situation was reversed and it was trying to protect its trademark against SyNet? The patent was issued May 28, but was due to take effect tomorrow. With that comes a 30-day period in which anybody who feels they would be infringed upon by the granting of the trademark can appeal, which Microsoft is expected to do. But it also signals that the Patent & Trademark Office has looked for conflicting trademarks and cannot find any, believing Rana to have a legitimate claim to the mark. Microsoft has apparently offered to settle the case several times, including a meeting the week before last when it apparently offered Rana a substantial sum, but nonetheless below his level of debt, which he rejected. He also rejected a $75,000 settlement back in 1995 when IE was launched, which covered his legal fees back then. However, due to the company’s Chapter 11 status, Rana is not likely to see any personal financial benefit from any settlement.