Microsoft’s huge October 26the event is just a couple of days away, and as is usually the case with such high-profile launches, rumour mills have started churning out possible hardware launches, which MS might have probably lined up for this particular event.
This time around though, there’s some solid backing to the rumour mills’ churning.
This time, we’ve got some solid and reasonable evidence to believe, that Microsoft will be naming its all-in-one PC, the Surface Studio. The same was revealed by Brian Conroy, also known as The Trademark Ninja, a commercial litigation lawyer specializing in trademark law and intellectual property. If you’re unaware, Brian is the same person who leaked the nomenclature of Apple’s ‘Magic Toolbar’ by scouring through trademark filings made by these companies.
Now, according to all that Brian could find — and these are all of course legit, legal documents — Microsoft has registered a trademark globally, Surface ‘Studio. If you look at the sheer logic behind the name, it wouldn’t take rocket science to predict, that the former refers to a desktop while the latter hints towards a possible smartphone.
These possible predictions are further stamped upon by the description these trademarks provide.
According to the trademark filing, Surface Studio’s Description of gods section mentions terms like ” computers; tablet computers; laptops; mobile computers; computer peripherals; wireless computer peripherals” among others. This clearly shows that this could be, Microsoft’s much rumoured and highly anticipated, ‘all-in-one’ PC.
That’s not just it, here’s the twist
While this was one registered by Microsoft, Brian has even dug deeper, and found that a Slovenia-based company has acquired trademarks for the word ‘Surface’ just this year, who’s description states the exact same terms which I mentioned earlier. Interestingly, Microsoft has already patented this particular name way back in 2012. So yes, legally, this trademark filing should have been an outright rejection.
Now, that SAME Slovenian company just 4 weeks ago on 26th September 2016 then applied for Global Trademark through the Paris Convention via WIPO for ‘Surface’ based on that initial application in Slovenia.
All of this sounds confusing, right ? Well, if you’re frame law background, you should perhaps read Brian’s complete, detailed post here. If you’re not (which would be the case with most of us here), continue reading this for a mapper simplified explanation.
Now, in all likelihood, Microsoft should be challenging that trademark application by the Slovenian company, simple because it already had the trademark for the term, ‘Surface’, in the exact same class of trademarks and with the exact same description. But this isn’t just it, there’ more.
After digging even further, Brian found out that the Slovenian company had not only applied for ‘Surface’, they have also applied for :
- Surface Studio
- Surface Dial
Yup. So what exactly is the deal here ? How could this possibly be even true, considering that trademark rules (and basic logic in fact) globally state that the same trademark can not be applied for two companies for the ver same class and description of services.
Here is the catch. This entire text is from Brian’s blog post, which I felt could be easily understood by someone (like me) from a non-lawyer background. Here it goes :
Now, the Slovenian company that has applied for all these trademarks is called Svetovne tehnologije d.o.o., which (again according to Google Translate) translates to ‘World Technologies Limited’
The law office and representatives who filed the Slovenian Trademark applications are called “Živko Mijatovic & Partners d.o.o.” in Slovenia. They are part of a group of law offices and IP advisors with offices all across primarily Eastern Europe. You can check them out here
A couple of important things to note about Živko Mijatovic & Partners d.o.o.
Firstly, according to their website, they are “a full service Intellectual Property Law Firm” who excel “at highly effective, strategic and efficient trademark portfolio management“. I bring this up because, you know, they obviously know a thing or two about trademarks. So they would know that if you apply for an identical trademark for identical goods and services, it’s going to be refused.
Oh, and there’s another thing, the same firm has applied for about 60% of Microsoft’s trademarks in Slovenia since 1989. So you’d have to logically assume they would be well aware of the existence of Microsoft’s surface trademark, right?
So, here’s where we are SO FAR. The firm that has historically advised Microsoft on it’s trademarks in Slovenia, has now applied on behalf of a company called Svetovne tehnologije d.o.o. for trademarks which on their surface appear to be in direct conflict with Microsoft’s existing trademarks. While that might initially seem unusual, if Microsoft are no longer a client, and another client wants to register Trademarks that could potentially conflict with those of the former client, there isn’t actually any reason for Živko Mijatovic & Partners d.o.o. to not act for that new client and process those applications.
But there’s another thing.
According to the records which I was able to access (and assuming the accuracy of them, you can see them yourself by clicking on that link) Svetovne tehnologije d.o.o.was incorporated the day before those original trademarks were filed in Slovenia, and according to Biz.si, the 100% registered owner of the company is the Slovenian arm of Živko Mijatovic itself and the registered address of the company is at the same address as Živko Mijatovic & Partners d.o.o. also.
So, it appears that either (1) Microsoft are behind these applications, or (2) the Law Office that represented Microsoft in Slovenia in relation to 30 out of 50 of its trademark applications in that country has incorporated a company, of which it is the registered 100% owner, and then the very next day applied for Trademarks for an identical term that Microsoft already has trademarks for, for some identical goods and services, and then applied for global trademarks for them.
Its actually pretty difficult to conclude what exactly is the case here. However, I’d suggest you togo through Brian’s entire blog post — specially the conclusions part — to get a hold of what exactly is happening out there. Here’s the link if you missed it above.