Microsoft’s lawsuit against Unicaresoft BV is scheduled to take place on 23 April. Unicaresoft is a joint initiative of Carola Eppink, developers and entrepreneurs.
Carola, mother of three, designed a solution against excessive chatting and Internet use from her home and wanted to name the product MSNLOCK.
The name derived from the idea behind the software – regulating the use of various chat programmes. Carola thought MSNLOCK to be an appropriate name for a product that provides a solution for such a large-scale social problem.
Shortly after registering the brand and domain name, Microsoft Corporation demanded through their lawyers that the name was withdrawn and the domain name deregistered.
Carola sought legal help, turning to lawyer Marc de Boer of Boekx Advocaten. His standpoint is that the use of the name MSNLOCK is not illegal. “The name simply clarifies the intention of the product. What’s more, MSN messaging has become a generic term for chatting.”
Faced with the threat of a lawsuit, Unicaresoft relinquished the product name MSNLOCK. Unicaresoft did approach Microsoft to discuss the matter and to explain the positive effects of the developed product on the use and perception of chat programmes. However, Microsoft declined and summoned Unicaresoft to also transfer all claimed Internet domain names and the name MSNLOCK to Microsoft.
Carola comments: “I always assumed that MSN stood for Messenger. It says so literally in the Van Dale dictionary, I quote: MSN messaging is sending messages through a messenger”.
Carola believes the case is not so much about the brand or domain name as it is about the product she developed. In fact, there are numerous examples of domain names that feature the abbreviation MSN in combination with other words. Considering the popularity of Windows Live Messenger and the income it generates through MSN-related advertising revenue, it seems that a product aimed at providing a solution for a large-scale social problem is being prevented from coming onto the market.