Microsoft sued over Forefront security brand

Maker of software for construction companies wants Microsoft to pick a different name for its business security software.

A maker of software for construction companies has sued Microsoft over its use of the Forefront name for its security software.

Seattle-based Dexter + Chaney has been selling its "Forefront Construction Management Software" for nearly two decades, the company's spokesman Brad Mathews said Friday. "The brand has come to mean a great deal to us and our clients, and we hope to our prospects as well," he said.

Dexter + Chaney filed suit against Microsoft on Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle. The company is seeking an injunction barring Microsoft from using the Forefront name.

Microsoft announced Forefront in June as a single brand that encompasses updated and upcoming security products aimed at businesses. "They will be selling under our brand to the very same people that we sell to," Mathews said. "Before the marketplace gets confused, and our business is hurt, we'd like them to pick another name."

Microsoft does not see how there could be any confusion since it the products the two companies sell are very different, the software giant's spokesman Jack Evans said in an e-mailed statement.

"We carefully review names for our new products and consider the possible use of those names by other companies to avoid any conflict," Evans said. "In this instance, we believe the specific use of the name Microsoft Forefront will not cause any confusion in the marketplace since the products and the channels of trade for them are significantly different."

Dexter + Chaney's Forefront Construction Management Software, which is not security software, is designed to help construction companies manage their work from the inception of a project to its completion. Bu contrast, Microsoft's Forefront products are aimed at businesses in general to help them secure PCs and networks.

Privately-held Dexter + Chaney has about 70 employees and last year booked revenue of $14.2 million, Mathews said.

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