Design company Bing sues Microsoft over search engine name

Bing Information Design is alleging trademark infringement and unfair competition by Microsoft

A small Missouri company with the word "Bing" in its name has sued Microsoft for branding its search engine with the same word, alleging trademark infringement and unfair competition by the software giant.

Bing Information Design filed the case in a St. Louis circuit court this week, seeking damages including corrective advertising paid for by Microsoft to eliminate confusion between the brands, the company's law firm said in a statement on Thursday.

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The design company, which offers computer-related illustrations and other services, has used 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.

Microsoft filed its application for the trademark "Bing" (without the exclamation mark) on March 2.

Microsoft's use of the name Bing and its aggressive advertising have "gutted" efforts by the small design company to distinguish itself, the statement said. Bing.biz, a Web site linked to in the statement, showed sample graphics from the company and gave the job titles of its two principals as "overlord-in-chief" and "the brains behind the operation."

Microsoft has not been served with a complaint but is aware of the lawsuit based on media reports, a Microsoft spokesman said in an e-mail.

"We believe 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 product," the spokesman said.

Microsoft launched its Bing search engine earlier this year as a revamp of its Microsoft Live Search service.

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