MikeRoweSoft
January 18, 2004 6:33 AM   Subscribe

Microsoft to crush MikeRoweSoft - a high school student's part-time web design site. Throw away the key, boys.
posted by Resonance (29 comments total)
 
And you know what? The kid is good. His web site features very nice, simple, clean design. His portfolio work is a bit cluttered for my taste, but he's got skills, energy, and a good sense of humor.

Heh heh. "MikeRoweSoft." Linucks, bsdee, and youknicks.
posted by e.e. coli at 7:02 AM on January 18, 2004


He's infringing their copyright, which Microsoft doesn't want to get watered down and devalued. Ok, so this 17 year old isn't probably much of a threat, but not acting on it would create a precedent that Microsoft might find harder to deal with later. Asking for $10k was pretty stupid as it just makes him look like a domain squatter. Anyway, I'll step back and let the Microsoft bashing commence.
posted by Orange Goblin at 7:08 AM on January 18, 2004


nitpick: It's trademark, not copyright, which is the issue here. Copyright can't be lost if it isn't actively defended. Trademarks, however, can.
posted by TimeFactor at 7:18 AM on January 18, 2004


Um ... what copyrighted works belonging to Microsoft is he infringing, exactly? I didn't see his site offering Windows, or Excel or anything like that.

In fact, the only thing Microsoft related is the name "Mike Rowe Soft", which phonetically DOES sound like Microsoft. But how is that copyright infringement? Trademark, possibly. But copyright? Since when? (admittedly, I might be a bit behind the times. If so, please enlighten...)

on preview: what TimeFactor said.
posted by kaemaril at 7:22 AM on January 18, 2004


e. e. coli: It IS a nice site, but the bottom bit is broken on my copy of Mozilla :)
posted by kaemaril at 7:23 AM on January 18, 2004


btw, the name of the Canadian law firm representing Microsoft? "Smart & Biggar(sic)". You just CANNOT make up stuff like this! :)
posted by kaemaril at 7:43 AM on January 18, 2004


Although it is a pun, I think there's no confusion or dillution of M$'s trademark.

The sound of the site might be the same, but since the domain name exists solely in written form, it's obvious that it's not Microsoft. No confusion there at all.

If anything I can only see problems for Mike, when telling people in person or over the phone, what his website's address is called, and they end up going to microsoft.com.
posted by Blue Stone at 8:05 AM on January 18, 2004


From the article: He thought it would be a "cool" name for his business since it had his name in it and "the same phonetic sound as the famous company Microsoft."

I thought that if you were taking advantage of someone elses name recognition it was trademark violation. I am not a MS fan; just saying.
posted by tcaleb at 8:11 AM on January 18, 2004


It's totally different. Microsoft has stress on the first syllable and MikeRoweSoft has stress on the second syllable. Stress patterns are phonemic in English, so we're talking about completely different words here. Nobody says micROsoft, they say MIcrosoft, so I think the kid has a defense.
posted by nohat at 9:36 AM on January 18, 2004


No, it doesn't have stress on the second syllable. The name is obviously intended to be pronounced the same as "Microsoft," so I do.
posted by kindall at 9:41 AM on January 18, 2004


It's a play on words, yes, but how anyone could confuse the two is beyond me. The spelling is nowhere close. The trade dress is nowhere close.

Looking at it, I could as easily pronounce it "Mee-kay-roh-wee-soft".

My guess is with a good lawyer, the kid could mount a decent defense.
posted by weston at 11:28 AM on January 18, 2004


Not only that, but he has the important point in his favor that it's ACTUALLY HIS GOT-DAMN NAME.
posted by adamgreenfield at 1:58 PM on January 18, 2004


No, adam, it's not his GOT-DAMN NAME. His name is Mike Rowe and I doubt he'd have trouble if he'd registered as mikerowe.com. Instead he decided to be a smartass (he is 17, after all) and throw the "soft" at the end, thereby infringing MS's trademark.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:24 PM on January 18, 2004


Ah, you can't buy this kind of publicity....
posted by konolia at 3:05 PM on January 18, 2004


This is a trademark issue, not a copyright issue. It's an obvious trademark issue, in that he's not claiming parody and actually doing business (albeit very little business) by exploiting the recognition of another trademark.

A "decent lawyer" would let him know that he's probably doesn't have a chance in hell of defense because it's a trademark issue, and that he's already admitted publically he chose it because it's phonetically similar. The pseudo-extortion bit probably didn't help his case either ("Yep, I think it's worth $10,000 - how about you pay me that instead of the registration fee?")

But, of course, every time Microsoft protects its interests, it's "David vs. Goliath" time.
posted by FormlessOne at 3:08 PM on January 18, 2004


How about "KarlRoveSoft"?
posted by wendell at 5:36 PM on January 18, 2004


> Ah, you can't buy this kind of publicity....

Actually, according to the article, you can. For $10.
posted by o2b at 9:31 PM on January 18, 2004


It's totally different. Microsoft has stress on the first syllable and MikeRoweSoft has stress on the second syllable.

Actually, since Mike, Rowe and Soft are three different words, I think the domain should be pronounced with stress on all three syllables. He definitely has a case.
posted by VeGiTo at 10:09 PM on January 18, 2004


I don't get how the pronunciations could be confused: "MikeRoweSoft" is pronounced "mike-row-soft," whereas "Microsoft" is pronounced "expensive-bug-filled-crap."
posted by wdpeck at 3:29 AM on January 19, 2004


He made a big, big mistake by asking for the $10,000. As I'm sure he realizes at this point. I know he's a kid, but if it's really worth that much to him, he should have gotten legal advice and not tried to mix it up with the Microsoft lawyers.

(I've been in his shoes -- not with Microsoft but with another company -- and it wasn't fun.)
posted by litlnemo at 4:44 AM on January 19, 2004


I hope he goes on to great things.
posted by agregoli at 7:02 AM on January 19, 2004


He earned $1000 last YEAR. That's $1000 Microsoft would have made if Mike's customer didn't mispell the URI.
posted by Electrin at 8:15 AM on January 19, 2004


From Dave Letterman's top ten list of top ten Bill Gates pick-up lines : "Looking at you I'm neither micro nor soft". I guess their new tagline could be "Microsoft, we're not Mike Rowe Soft"
posted by Eekacat at 3:39 PM on January 19, 2004


I don't think it's unfair to ask for $10K if someone demands that you drop your business name, especially since he's got some brand equity in such a clever name. And besides, Microsoft didn't even offer to buck up for the fee for a replacement domain. They offered him ten dollars even. I'd be insulted too. They couldn't spare twenty?
posted by sharpener at 5:30 PM on January 19, 2004


You misunderstand. By demanding $10,000, Mike made them able to turn it around on him and paint him as a greedy domain-squatter. I'm not saying Microsoft is in the right here, because I believe they aren't -- but Mike needs to tread carefully here, because MS can hire sharp lawyers and cut him to shreds.

The name may be worth that much, but he needs advice from those experienced in these things. (Like I said, I learned the hard way. In my case someone offered me some money for a domain, I didn't want to sell, but thought the offer was OK and did a little negotiating -- not for more money, but about some other issues -- then the offer disappeared and the next step was being contacted by lawyers and offered $35 total for the domain, with the implication that I was a domain-squatter because I had "asked for money." At that point I had to bite the bullet and hire a lawyer myself before things got uglier. Everything turned out acceptably in the long run, but you know, it took a lot of stress and energy to get there.)
posted by litlnemo at 6:31 PM on January 19, 2004


IANAL, but I think he could win this one. Mike Rowe is is name. MS has not trademarked the word "Soft". Also, it's not the American court system, and I'm willing to bet that most of us don't know how the Canadian trademark laws are written.

I hope he wins. Yes, he was being a teenager when he named it, but he was also being clever. There is zero chance that someone looking for MS would hit that site and think, "Wow...MS sure has changed".

I don't think the trademark has been diluted, I don't think MS can defend it since there are many, many, many companies whose names end in "soft"...and it *is* the kid's name after all.

By demanding $10,000, Mike made them able to turn it around on him and paint him as a greedy domain-squatter.

I disagree. I think they're *trying* to pull that meme out and paint the media with it...but the fact is that the kid has a working site and business...which is not the case with domain squatters. That's a no-brainer to disprove. Now, should he have hired a lawyer to undertake negotiations? Absolutely. You can't go up against attack attorneys like those that work for MS without your own sharks.
posted by dejah420 at 9:18 AM on January 20, 2004


Right or wrong, Goliath has a ton of cash, and plenty of free time.

Honestly, I feel more for the nissan.com guy.
posted by Yossarian at 12:33 PM on January 20, 2004


I disagree. I think they're *trying* to pull that meme out and paint the media with it...but the fact is that the kid has a working site and business...which is not the case with domain squatters. That's a no-brainer to disprove.

To you, and to me, and to everyone reading this, sure. But to a judge or a jury... who knows? (It's also possible that the fact that he is using the name for a business -- and a computer one at that -- will hurt him rather than help him, if that is seen as trademark infringement. If the site was completely non-commercial, i.e. not being used in trade, it would be a defense to some extent. But they might still threaten him -- it happens all the time.)

There are all kinds of ways they can and will try to make him look bad, which is why he needs good legal representation.
posted by litlnemo at 3:35 PM on January 20, 2004




« Older Wal-Mart Lockin   |   Bowing to the Mighty Ayatollah Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments