Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Microsoft Takes On MikeRoweSoft

from the ah,-trademark-law dept

I'm surprised this one hasn't gotten more attention yet (though, it probably will). A kid in Canada named Mike Rowe needed a name for his website design business, and picked the somewhat obvious choice: The legal folks at a company you might have heard of, Microsoft, didn't take too kindly to that, and sent the typical threatening legal letter. They offered Mr. Rowe a whopping $10 for the domain. He wrote back saying $10,000 seemed more appropriate - and now Microsoft is accusing him of holding the domain hostage to try to get money out of Microsoft. I read the story a few times before I actually believed it. Even the name of the Microsoft law firm involved in this case (Smart & Biggar) made me wonder if it's all a big hoax - but it all seems real enough. Before the legal beagles chip in with the point that Microsoft needs to do this to protect their trademark, I'll respond by saying that this should be a perfect example of why that rule doesn't make much sense. How many people are actually going to confuse MikeRoweSoft with Microsoft? If anything, Mr. Rowe is going to have more trouble getting people to remember what his domain name is - as he's going to need to spell it out to everyone. However, as a publicity stunt for Mr. Rowe's web design business, this is probably going to help him out quite a bit.

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  1. identicon
    phoenix, 19 Jan 2004 @ 3:21am

    No Subject Given

    anyway, it's quite bizarre to have a name which is pronounced like "micro" (apart from the accent)...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Precision Blogger, 19 Jan 2004 @ 6:45am

    "MIkeRoweSoft" is not 'the obvious name' for this

    First, most people who create a company don't name it after their full names. Oracle is not, is it? Second, Mike Rowe designs websites, he does not sell software products, nor does he develop software other than websites, I think.

    So MikeRoweWebsites would be a good name.

    This really looks like a case where Mike Rowe chose a name because of its similarity to Microsoft. He should have tried to be less similar (I think he could have gotten away with "MikeRoweHard"). He gets no sympathy from me.

    It's a pity Microsoft doesn't take the semi-high road in these cases though. They could offer Rowe (instead of taking away his domain name) to let him use it for 1% of his gross plus a disclaimer that he is not affiliated from Microsoft.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jan 2004 @ 11:43am


    Funny, you miss the point that Microsnot does NOT own so I don't see how they could charge him.
    It's his name & since when do Microsoft own names like Mike Rowe ?
    Why should he try to be less similar ?
    The spellings are not even close.

    Microsoft take the high road ???? All they have done is to HELP this man INCREASE his traffic by sueing !

    Its an insult they offered him less money than he spent to register it.

    Go suck some corporate lawyers patootie ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jan 2004 @ 11:50am

    Re: Mike Rowe Soft

    I wonder if Mike Rowe was given that name or if he chose to change his name recently to cause this situation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    stickler, 21 Jan 2004 @ 2:59pm

    Re: Mike Rowe Soft

    Rowe knew what he was doing when he picked his domain name. He admits he did it to sound similar and confusing. He also admits to "probably going too far" by asking for $10,000 for his weeks-old website. This is only newsworthy because Rowe is 17 and called all the media outlets himself with his own spin. Any company in the world would be cracking down on this to preserve their name. will be next

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    rynther, 30 Jan 2004 @ 10:52am

    much noise about little mike

    okay, so mike is a young geek with a sense of humor about naming his website, big deal

    precision blogger said "mikerowehard" would be more obvious, is HTML a microchip variety, or is it code, (aka software)? If you don't think people name a company after thier full name you might not have heard of J.C. penny

    second, here in the US it is perfectly legal to use your name for the name of a business, without publishing a dba (aka FICTITIOUS name statement)

    third, is your spelling that bad? my spelling might not be very good, but I haven't been directed to mike's site once, or even been asked by the "helpful" search engines if I'd like to buy the domain, which happens alot when you type a domain name that doesn't exist(and nobody has paid off the search engines to re-direct you)

    the only people that seem to be confused are the smallnsoft lawers, who appear to be worse at spelling than I am, and whose firm is probably named for the lead attorney, or senior partners

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jun 2009 @ 11:22am

    Re: Re: Mike Rowe Soft

    I am sure that is his real name. I have an older brother name Micheal Rowe or Mike Rowe not the same kid though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Raju, 7 Apr 2010 @ 2:06am

    I have Similar case

    Please tell me what cal I do, when I got a mail like this? They are company in UK, But I am in India I own .in domain of their UK domain. threatening goes like this " Many thanks for your message. I recall corresponding with you regarding the domain '-----' which I requested that you assign to us given that we viewed this as an infringement on our trademark, and you subsequently ignored my messages. Given the time elapsed and that we will always make every effort at our disposal to protect our trademark and image rights, this matter has already been handed to our legal team. I urge you to assign the domain to us immediately, and once this is done I will be more than happy to guide you through our accreditation process, but surely as you can appreciate the domain issue has to be resolved beforehand. I look forward to hearing from you by return, thanking you in advance,"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    ezim law firm baton rouge, 9 Aug 2010 @ 1:01pm


    That is really interesting that Microsoft is taking on this company. I really would like to see what happens with this case. Of course you are going to think that Microsoft is going to win because they are a huge company and have a lot of lawyers and people that work for them, but still I'd like to see the verdict.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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