Lawyers start Xboxing

Xbox Technologies threatens lawsuit against Microsoft

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A small Florida-based holding company called Xbox Technologies has revealed that it trademarked the word "Xbox" back in March 1999, before the next gen console was anything more than a twinkle in Bill Gates' eye, and after failed negotations with Microsoft the company is now threatening to go to court. According to a report from the Financial Times, Xbox Technologies "plans to use [Xbox] as an umbrella name for its software companies as well as a name for specific software products", and they were obviously not very happy when Microsoft chose Xbox as the name of their next generation console.

The Xbox, Microsoft style

"There's no way that we can co-exist", blustered Xbox CEO John Van Leeuwen, before going on to patronise the entire gaming industry by saying that "we can't afford to have our business confused with games for kids - either we find a business solution or we get into a legal battle."

Unfortunately this could mean trouble for Microsoft, as van Leeuwen seems unwilling to sell his claim to the name. In fact quite the opposite, he actually offered to buy out Microsoft's claim on the name! Microsoft are saying that "we're certainly confident [that] we will prevail", but the sad truth of the matter is that if Xbox Technologies insist on going to court the process could drag on for months or even years. Microsoft could ignore the case and launch their console as the Xbox at the end of this year as planned, but if they do that they are open to further legal challenges from Xbox Technologies, who could ask for an injunction to halt the product's release. Needless to say this is bad news for Microsoft whichever way it goes, as it could delay the console's release or force a change of name. We will keep you posted...

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