It’s a familiar story. Two companies have created products with similar — actually, identical — names. Both products provide similar features, too. One sues the other over the use of the trademark. Why is this of interest to Mac users? Because in this case, the plaintiff is Fl.-based
ELS Inc. and the defendant is Apple. The product in question is ELS’s Mac Manager.
Mac Manager provides desktop security and personal data management capabilities to Mac users — it can restrict access to certain applications, documents and network resources. ELS said that Mac Manager has been in circulation for more than six years now.
Macintosh Manager is Apple’s own workstation management technology, developed for system administrators in educational markets. Developed as the successor to Apple’s own At Ease for Workgroups software, Macintosh Manager works hand in hand with AppleShare IP. The software provides a method for Mac administrators to configure and control Macs working on their networks. It was first introduced in January of 1999.
ELS claimed in its complaint against Apple that the computer company “willfully infringed ELS’ trademark rights” by adopting a confusingly similar name for the same type of software. ELS also alleged dilution, unfair competition, and injury to business reputation.
ELS president Mitchell Martin said that he receives complaints on an almost daily basis — complaints directed towards Apple’s product, not his. In a recent statement, Martin said, “Maybe it would not be so bad if it was good press; but all I hear is how bad the Mac Manager product is. I couldn’t give away my product now. Apple has essentially put me out of business.”