French television presenter Philippe Gildas has sued Microsoft for “violation of intellectual property,” accusing the software publisher of illegally using the trademark “Vista.”
Gildas registered the name Microsoft chose for its latest operating system in October 2003 — two years before Microsoft registered its trademark with the French National Institute for Intellectual Property (INPI).
He had registered the trademark for a new television channel aimed at senior citizens, Télé Vista, which was to have launched in 2003. The project was delayed, but is now coming to fruition, with plans to launch the channel later this year. Gildas sees Microsoft’s hogging of the limelight with its new operating system as an obstacle to that launch, and so he decided to sue, arguing that he registered the trademark “in all entertainment and media categories: press, television, Web and so on.”
As in other jurisdictions, French trademark law recognizes rights to the use of trademark only in certain categories of activity, allowing, say, a baker of baguettes and a maker of berets to use the same trademark in their respective domains.
Gildas has indeed registered the trademark in categories 35, 38 and 41, which covers the entertainment and media categories he cited. However, he did not register it in categories 9 and 42, covering software and the design and development of computers and software, the areas relevant to Microsoft’s operating system.
Given that the trademarks registered by Gildas and Microsoft are in different categories, it may be difficult for him to argue his case.