Microsoft Corp. has been hit with a trademark infringement lawsuit by a California company that seeks to stop the software maker from using the name Office Live for its business tools.
Office Live LLC of Los Angelesoffers online productivity service and operates free consumer advice sites such as lawofficelive.com and doctorsofficelive.com.
According to documents on file with the U.S. Patent and Trade Office, the company registered the Office Live trademark on Dec. 31, 2002, anda lawyer for the company said it hadbeen in use since 2001.
Microsoft's Office Live Web software for businesses exited the test stage late in the fall of 2006.
"We had no way of knowing in 2001 that Microsoft was going to come out with a product called Office Live six years later," said John Gorman, a lawyer for Office Live LLC told CBC News Online Friday.
Office Live LLC is seeking an immediate temporary injunction barring Microsoft from using the Office Live name until court proceedings have concluded, saidGorman,of the California-based intellectual property law firm Gorman and Miller.
The company also wantsapermanent injunction and unspecified monetary damages to include the software maker's revenues linked to using the Office Live name, Gorman said.
He said Office Live originally filed its lawsuit on Dec. 29, 2006, but held back from serving Microsoft the papers so the parties could discuss the dispute in mediation.
Microsoft and Office Live LLC met on Feb. 12 and failed to come to an agreement, he said.
"The parties' positions were very far apart," Gorman said.
Microsoft was served with the lawsuit Feb. 16.
'Live' a common descriptor, Microsoft says
According to Microsoft, Office Live LLC, contacted the world's largest software maker a year ago and was told that use of the word "live" in conjunction with other terms was commonplace.
'Microsoft is using common words in a common way and pairs them with its very famous Microsoftmark. We don't think Office Live LLC has a trademark…' —Microsoft spokesman Jack Evans
"Microsoft is using common words in a common way and pairs them with its very famous Microsoftmark. We don't think Office Live LLC has a trademark, or that we are infringing any rights asserted by Office Live LLC," Microsoft spokesman Jack Evans said in a statement e-mailed to CBC News Online.
"We detailed other common uses of'live' as a descriptor, citing examples such as AOL Live, Vodaphone Live, XBOX Live, and WTP Live. We also pointed out that we've used Office Live Meeting since 2003 to promote our online meeting technology and services."
Gorman said the argument that the use of "live" as a descriptor was considered and rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office when it considered Office Live LLC's trademark application.
"Microsoft is talking out of both sides of its mouth because they're using Windows Live and trying to obtain a trademark for it," Gorman said. "They can't have it both ways."
Evans said that Microsoft will "vigorously defend" its legal position and "will seek to invalidate Office Live LLC's claim to trademark the phrase Office Live in its common connotation."