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Microsoft v MikeRoweSoft (wikipedia.org)
96 points by TheAuditor on April 17, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 20 comments



When I was in college (mid 70s) we wrote a compiler for the 6800 - it fit in 2k, we were very proud .... we copyrighted everything under the name μSoft (everything was μ this and μ that back then, in retrospect it was a terribly obvious name).

A year later some upstart showed up on the scene using our name, and he just had a BASIC interpreter, sooo lame! We were college kids in NZ, pre-internet we had no real access to the rest of the world so our project, and our name died .... I so wish we'd incorporated, or at least registered the trademark


legally would you be entitled to royalties if you had registered the trademark? i dont know how long you can squat on a trademark before the obviously bigger entity has proper claim on it...


Probably not royalties, but we'd own the name, MS would have to trade under a different name in NZ (just as Burger King has to operate as "Hungry Jack's" in Australia), or come to some sort of accommodation.

BTW it's not "squatting" if you've come to the name for a genuine purpose, and as I said it was a pretty obvious name at the time


If I may play devil's advocate here, I've wondered if the motivation behind this was actually the fact that if you do not defend your trademark, your inaction can be used as a defense in future cases and you effectively lose your trademark. So you may have to pursue cases that you think are ridiculous to retain your right to pursue cases that you actually take seriously.


If I may play devil's advocate to that argument, it sounds like firefighters selling fire insurance, or something like regulatory capture for the legal system.

"If you don't hire enough lawyers to defend your trademark, you'll lose it!"

It hurts small actors in both directions; how many Mom/Pop shops can afford to "aggressively defend" their intellectual property, and how many can afford to actually defend it if a large incumbent comes after them with a frivolous suit motivated by these sorts of ridiculous fears?

I'm not saying the legal system doesn't work that way, it just sounds like a scuzzy argument.


I absolutely don't think it should work that way, and I don't know if there's a case in which it has worked that way - but I've heard that from enough legit lawyers that I personally would weigh the cost of losing a trademark into whether or not my lawyers had my blessing in sending a cease-and-desist.


No, Trademark Law Does Not Require Companies To Tirelessly Censor the Internet

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/11/trademark-law-does-not...


The problem is that if most judges are former lawyers and most lawyers think something is the law, it may as well be the law, and no business is going to want to be the one thumping their stacks of legal opinions yelling that their trademark is still valid.


It's in the wikipedia article:

> Following the case it was suggested by Struan Robertson – editor of Out-Law.com – that Microsoft had little choice but to pursue the issue once it had come to light or they would have risked weakening their trademark.[19] This view was also espoused by ZDNet, who noted that had Microsoft knowingly ignored Rowe's site, the company would have risked losing the right to fight future trademark infringements.[20] Robertson opined that – had legal proceedings ensued – Rowe would have made a strong argument for keeping his domain, as he was using his real name and was not claiming to be affiliated with Microsoft.[19]


It's also no mistake that Mike Rowe picked MikeRoweSoft because it sounded like "microsoft"



He just posted here recently, btw: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16851021



interestingly i dont think this would fly at all in China, where URL's are entirely made up of homonyms. https://newrepublic.com/article/117608/chinese-number-websit...


Or Japan. There are quite a few homonyms there too.


If you want a funny one today look into JASON[1] vs JSON[2]. Douglas Crockford hasn't made a fuss yet but it certainly confuses people.

[1]: https://github.com/xk/JASON

[1]: https://www.npmjs.com/package/JASON

[2]: http://www.json.org/


Trademark is as much to protect consumers as it is to protect companies. For example, this kid could have shopped his services to unwitting small business owners in town, the kind of folks who might believe it when someone cold calls and tells them they have a virus on their computer. Turns out he's probably not a jerk, but how's Microsoft to know that?

All that said, this was clearly a case of bad PR management by Microsoft. It can't be that hard for Microsoft to buy off a 12th grader.



also relevant: http://nissan.com/


this makes me angry




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