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3Com, Microsoft battle not over

3Com and the software giant are close to resolving their trademark dispute over the PalmPilot, but have not yet reached an agreement.

    3Com and Microsoft are close to resolving their trademark dispute, but have not yet reached an agreement.

    Legal action, which arose from Microsoft's use of the name "Palm PC" for its line of palmtop products, was last month undertaken by 3Com in France, Germany, and Italy. 3Com asserted that Microsoft's use of the term "Palm" as a product name constituted trademark infringement.

    Although the term "palm" is acceptable as a general designation for a category of handheld devices, "Palm PC" is too close to "PalmPilot" to use as a product name, 3Com said.

    Earlier this week, reports surfaced that 3Com CEO Eric Benhamou had confirmed a settlement between the two handheld companies at a Red Herring conference. Today, a 3Com spokesperson said that while the settlement talks are "close" to resolving the issue, reports of a settlement are premature.

    "3Com has always been intent on protecting its trademarks," the spokesperson said. "We recognize that there is a generic category of palmtop devices that a bunch of products might fall into, but it really depends on how the term is used."

    Microsoft declined to comment on the state of the settlement discussion. However, it has not let up on the use of the word palm. Today at the Windows CE Developer's conference, keynote speakers Paul Maritz, group vice president of the platform and application group at Microsoft, and Dave Wecker, principal engineer in Microsoft's mobile product unit, both used the "palm" terminology repeatedly during their morning speeches.

    Exhibitors at the accompanying trade show showed no compunction about using the palm term either.