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Microsoft sued over Bing name

A company called Bing Information Design is suing Microsoft, alleging "trademark infringement, unfair competition, and tortious interference with business expectancy."

There are those who believe that Microsoft came up with the name Bing for its refreshed search engine after staring at the word "Bingo" for several days and then removing the last letter.

However, a small entity in St. Louis has decided that the name Bing was, is and always should be, theirs.

According to Ars Technica, Bing Information Design! has designs on some compensation from Microsoft, as it has used the delightful term, followed by a slightly less delightful exclamation point, ala Yahoo, since 2000.

Even to the most bleary eyes, Bing Information Design's Web site does not immediately stir confusion with Bing the search engine. Bing Information Design is "dedicated to taking tough, hard-to-define concepts and boiling them down into simple, easy-to-understand ideas."

So perhaps there might be those who would prefer a few pictures that would engender easy-to-understand ideas that might explain one thing: how could anyone confuse a massively promoted search engine from Microsoft with a minimally known company whose two founders "have over 25 years of experience in design, illustration, branding, information architecture and publishing"?

Diego 3336/Flickr

Bing Information Design's lawsuit says that Microsoft's Bing "causes confusion with regard to the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant, confuses the public with regard to the origin of the plaintiff's services and dilutes the value of the plaintiff's trademark."

The lawsuit also suggests that Microsoft knew of the St. Louis Bing and that therefore Bing deserves "actual and punitive damages, including having Microsoft pay for corrective advertising to remedy the confusion it caused."

I am sure that many an ad agency would leap at the opportunity to create a campaign that says "Bing. The Decision Engine Decisively Not from St. Louis. And Decisively Lacking an Exclamation Point."

A Microsoft spokesperson told Ars Technica: "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."

It will be interesting to see what proof of marketplace confusion Bing Information Design's lawyers might offer. Has there truly been consternation in Missouri? Have people walked into Bing Information Design's offices expecting to find Steve Ballmer chewing on some ideas?

It will be also interesting to hear whose fine decision it was to put that lovely exclamation point after the Bing in the St. Louis company's name.

One should always have sympathy with the small fish in the big sea. But is this a slightly gratuitous attempt by Bing Information Design to gain a little cha-ching? One awaits the full evidence with an exclamation point in one's heart.