Redmond, Washington — Bing, the much-touted search engine from Microsoft, is feeling the heat of a trademark conflict, as a small Missouri company called Bing! Information Designs, having the word “Bing” in its name has sued Microsoft for branding its search engine with the same word, alleging trademark violation and unfair competition by the software giant in a lawsuit filed last week in Missouri circuit court.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Missouri-based computer design firm states that Microsoft’s use of “Bing” puzzles the public and falsely infers the companies could be connected.
Bing Information Design registered the case in a St. Louis circuit court last week, seeking indemnification including corrective advertising paid for by Microsoft to eliminate confusion between the brands, the company’s law firm said in a statement.
The design company, which provides computer-related illustrations and other services, has employed the name Bing since 2000 and applied to register the trademark “Bing!” on May 26, according to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records. The USPTO initially refused the application on Aug. 25, giving the company six months to file supporting information.
“For almost ten years my client has been using the Bing! mark,” attorney Simon said in a release on Thursday.
“My client adopted this specific mark to distinguish itself in the marketplace and endured considerable time and effort promoting its business using Bing!. Microsoft’s insertion 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,” Simon said in a statement.
Last week, Microsoft in a statement said that it had yet to see a copy of the lawsuit but that the argument is false. “We have not been served with a complaint, but are aware of the suit based on media reports,” Microsoft spokesman Kevin Kutz said in an email response to an AFP inquiry.
“We hope 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 respect trademarks and other people’s intellectual property, and look forward to the next steps in the judicial process,” added Kutz.
BID develops interactive illustrations, designs, graphics, animations, and technical diagrams, according to Simon.
A BID website on Thursday featured sports stories and quizzes localized for St. Louis, the city where the company is based.
Microsoft revamped its old Live Search engine and launched Bing search engine worldwide in June to compete with Internet powerhouse Google. Since then, the search engine has slowly gained market share, breaking the 10 percent mark in November.
The Redmond software maker also entered into a 10-year Web search and advertising partnership with Yahoo! in July that set the stage for a joint offensive against Google.
Microsoft has also begun threading messages from the popular micro-blogging service Twitter into Bing and plans to do the same with status updates from Facebook.
However, it did not specify a precise dollar amount, the design firm is seeking “actual and punitive damages including having Microsoft pay for corrective advertising to remedy the confusion it caused,” the WSJ reported. Legal documents were not yet remotely available on the Missouri court system’s Web site.