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September 15, 2006 at 10:37 AM

Seattle firm sues Microsoft over software name

Dexter + Chaney, a 25-year-old Seattle company that makes construction management software, is suing Microsoft for trademark infringement.

The suit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, seeks to stop Microsoft from using the name “Forefront” on its security product line. Dexter + Chaney has a product called Forefront Construction Suite, which includes security features, and has used the Forefront name on its software since 1988, the company said in a news release.

“Construction companies throughout the United States know and respect the ‘Forefront’ name,” Brad Mathews, Dexter + Chaney’s vice president of sales and marketing, said in a statement. “By using that name in the construction industry, Microsoft will confuse our customers and prospects, and harm our company. We have asked Microsoft to cease their use of ‘Forefront’ and they have declined. Therefore, we have no choice but to take legal measures to protect ourselves.”

Update: Microsoft spokesman Jack Evans said in an email:

As a trademark owner, Microsoft understands the value and importance of trademarks and makes every effort to respect the legitimate trademark rights of others. For that reason, we carefully review names for our new products and consider the possible use of those names by other companies to avoid any conflict.

In this instance, we believe the specific use of the name Microsoft Forefront will not cause any confusion in the marketplace since the products and the channels of trade for them are significantly different.

Microsoft’s product is a security product while Dexter + Chaney’s product is intended specifically for managing construction projects.

The company rebranded its security software efforts under the Forefront name in June.

See this August profile of Dexter + Chaney for more background on the company.

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