Microsoft Sued Over Office Live Brand

Office Live LLC, a Los Angeles-based provider of online professional services, is suing Microsoft for trademark infringement over Microsoft's Office Live suite of business applications, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

The suit, originally filed in December, is asking the court to order Microsoft to stop using the Office Live name.

The legal mess could muddy Microsoft's efforts to launch a suite of Web-based productivity tools to fend off Google's Google Apps initiative. Last week, Google unveiled a version of the suite aimed at business customers. To date, products available under Microsoft's Office Live brand include Web design tools and Web hosting, e-mail and calendaring tools, online collaboration tools, and a contact manager.

However, a number of analysts and users say Microsoft has not done a good job articulating a clear strategy and roadmap for Office Live. "It appears to be a very piecemeal approach," says Jim Murphy, research director at AMR Research.

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A lengthy trademark battle would further hurt Microsoft's Office Live strategy, many believe.

The need for companies to quickly resolve such issues was highlighted last week when Apple announced that it had reached a settlement with Cisco Systems over Cisco's claims that the Apple iPhone infringes on an identically named Cisco product. Many observers felt that Apple needed to settle the matter quickly or risk undermining one of its most high profile product launches in years.

Microsoft officials were not immediately available for comment.