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Is Vista in the Clear?
Small Redmond Company Considers Lawsuit

The founder of a small company in Redmond, WA may take legal action against Microsoft over use of the name "Vista," according to reports. The company is called Vista Inc. or Vista.com and has the domain name www.vista.com. Its CEO John Wall said the company "is considering all of its options," and seems mostly concerned that if Microsoft simply tries to brand the name "Vista" instead of "Microsoft Vista" that it will potentially damage his company's business.

Wall reportedly told PC World magazine that he will monitor his company's website traffic to see if there's a spike in traffic that may indicate confusion over his company name and the name of the latest Windows OS release, slated for next year.

Microsoft recently held a global sales and partner event in Atlanta, during which it is now known that Vista was discussed, but at which the company didn't use the Microsoft name in any of the signage or publicly available materials (see http://www.sys-con.com/read/112958.htm).

Not all Vistaesque companies share this view. According to the PC World report, the president of Tucson, AZ-based Vista Software said, "Fortunately for our small company, all of our products are targeting the Windows platform, so I'm anticipating that the new 'Windows Vista' name will have a positive effect for us." Additionally, Anthony Carrabino, head of LaJolla, CA-based Vista Software said he "couldn't be happier" about Microsoft's name choice.

This sort of potential conflict is hardly new to Microsoft or to business in general. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO)  tends to grant significant latitude to companies using so-called "generic" names that use words in common usage, as long as they are used for a specific purpose other than one that has previously been trademarked.

A search of the current online database at the PTO, for example, shows the word "Vista" used in more than 1,000 currently approved trademarks, and the word "Vista" by itself in more than 200 of these. Whether the court of public opinion or the U.S. PTO will decide whether Vista, Inc.'s potential claims have merit remains to be seen.



About .NETDJ News Desk
.NETDJ News Desk monitors Microsoft .NET and its related technologies, including Silverlight, to present IT professionals with news, updates on technology advances, business trends, new products and standards, and insight.

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