Learning from Microsoft's Hard Trademark Lesson: Your Start-Up Company Needs a Multi-Faceted IP Strategy

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This article uses Microsoft's near loss of its Windows(R) trademark as a lesson for start-up companies. Although Windows was first introduced in 1985, the trademark application was not filed until 1990. Microsoft's delay in filing for trademark protection worked against it in the US Trademark Office: by 1990, many people associated the Windows interface with the way in which the software displayed the user's desktop, which made the Trademark Office reluctant to allow the mark. A critical take home from Microsoft's experience is that its delay in filing for trademark protection resulted in its almost destroying the brand equity developed in the first years of its initial introduction of its Windows products. Fast-forwarding to today, we see that Microsoft learned from its initial mistake and now the company follows a multi-faceted IP strategy. Any lawyer representing technology clients should use Microsoft's experience as a lesson for her start-up clients.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Jackie Hutter, IP Strategist, The Hutter Group LLC: IP Business Strategy | Attorney Advertising

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