How Microsoft Got the “Windows Defender” Name

By Deane Barker on November 9, 2005

New name flap for Microsoft — but this time its legal right is clear: Microsoft recently announced they would rename their Anti-Spyware product to “Windows Defender.”

However, a developer in Australia was already using that name for his software. His software wasn’t active (he has stopped developing it a year prior), but he still had a legitimate product in the market called “Windows Defender.”

Here’s how Microsoft solved that little problem:

[…] one of [Microsoft’s] law firms contacted him last month to inform him that he was infringing on the Windows trademark. The message from the Seed Intellectual Property Law Group asked him to agree to stop using the Windows Defender name.

He was puzzled by one element of the agreement, which gives to Microsoft all rights to the Windows Defender name. However, after consulting with a friend in law school, he decided to just sign it and move on.

“They made it seem like it was just a trademark infringement,” Lyttle said, explaining that he was “shocked” to learn, less than two weeks after returning the signed agreement, that Microsoft plans to use the Windows Defender name.

The guy in this case claims he would have given up the name voluntarily if he knew Microsoft wanted it for their product, but I bet a lot of people wouldn’t. If they knew Microsoft was gearing up for a product with the same name, they would hold out for millions of dollars.

So, was Microsoft sneaky, or were they doing the reasonable thing?

Via Slashdot.

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  1. It was sneaky but is it right for someone to hold a word hostage. There are several domain names I would like to register or assume but they are registered to someone else. ALL of them either have the standard registrar parking page or are completely blank. I’ve contacted two of them by email asking if they would sell for a reasonable price. One wanted $4,000 for a domain name that is not in use and has no value other than I wanted it. The other has a potential purpose for the current registrant but she has put nothing up for over a year. BTW she is very interested in what I want to do with the domain but will not sell it to me at all. Without a trademark on the domains I would like to have I don’t think I have a chance to free them and register them myself. Is that fair?

  2. Microsoft do the reasonable thing? Please. ;o)

    There may be more involved in this situation, but at first glance it sure sounds underhanded. And I think Lyttle would certainly have been within his rights to hold out for some sort of compensation from M$.

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