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Microsoft The Almighty Buck

Microsoft Agrees Settlement Over 689

GillBates0 writes "CNN's reporting that Microsoft Corp has settled with Mike Rowe, persuading the teenager to give up his domain name in exchange for costs of changing the existing domain to a new Web site, Microsoft certification training, an Xbox, an invitation to a technology festival at Redmond and some other gifts. Includes a choice quote from Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler: 'We wanted to do this in a way that's going to foster his interest in technology'. Mike had received a 25-page letter from Microsoft informing him he was committing copyright infringement, and threatening legal action, as reported earlier on Slashdot."
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Microsoft Agrees Settlement Over

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  • by Limburgher ( 523006 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:50PM (#8090577) Homepage Journal
    How exactly does one agree a settlement? Isn't that a bit like setting up someone the bomb?
  • aka... (Score:5, Funny)

    by jaden ( 22302 ) * on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:50PM (#8090580)
    "Microsoft pulls stick out of ass... finds it makes for better PR when carrot is tied to it"... I smell an innovation patent coming.
    • Re:aka... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by yintercept ( 517362 )
      Microsoft has always been adept with the distribution of else do you think they've been able to steer their firm through the treacherous waters of antitrust lawsuits.

      Here, Mr. Judge, is a big diamond studded gold carrot. Here, Mr. Senator, can I help you with your campaign funds...
    • Re:aka... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Evil MarNuke ( 209527 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:18PM (#8091027) Homepage
      That's funny.

      I pictured a monster sized bully beating up a kid in an ally way. Then, a small boy seeing what's going on runs off to tell a large hurd of nerds who comes running in masses. The monster is cought red handed hurting the poor kid with about 50k anger nerds and geeks watching. Quickly the monster reaches into it's deep pockets. Opps, he left the wallet at home, but he finds some chomp change and a few other goodies. He then stand before the nerds and says "This was all a big misunstanding. I was, umm, about to give him, umm, this pocket full of change, my game console, training at my enslav, I mean, training camps, in trade for his website."

      "See," moving the boy head, "he has agreed to take my offer, so can we please forget about all of this?"

    • Re:aka... (Score:3, Funny)

      by ReelOddeeo ( 115880 )
      "Microsoft pulls stick out of ass... finds it makes for better PR when carrot is tied to it"

      I'm not sure I would want that stick, even if the stick had a carrot tied to it.
    • Re:aka... (Score:5, Funny)

      by kerrbear ( 163235 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @04:25PM (#8091934)

      Microsoft pulls stick out of ass... finds it makes for better PR when carrot is tied to it

      Hey, do you think I could get an XBox too if Microsoft finds out about the web site I dedicated to my pet bird:

  • XBOX?!?! (Score:5, Funny)

    by phunhippy ( 86447 ) * < minus threevowels> on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:50PM (#8090582) Journal
    Cheap bastards could'nt give him a decent console like a PS2 or GC... now the poor canadian guy is stuck on Halo all day!!!!

    • It's his own fault. He should have held out for a monster truck []
    • Ohh, I want a free XBox too. is still free.,, and are all taken.

    • Re:XBOX?!?! (Score:5, Funny)

      by falcon5768 ( 629591 ) <Falcon5768@comca ... t minus language> on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:24PM (#8091108) Journal
      Slashdot... where only a joke like this will get a million geeks up in arms and starting a pissing contest of who's system is better (rolls eyes)
    • Re:XBOX?!?! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LilMikey ( 615759 )
      They said foster his interest in technology...

      Xbox is definitely the piece of equipment to have. Linux, MythTV, emulators, media players... screw games.
  • by PatrickThomson ( 712694 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:50PM (#8090590)
    MSCE training? Jesus, I didn't know they were going to be that hard on him
  • by djh101010 ( 656795 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:50PM (#8090592) Homepage Journal
    I hope he takes the free publicity & does something good with it. If he can handle this gracefully and turn it into something positive, he can end up being seen doing so by the right people, and turn it into a good opportunity for himself.

    Or, he can stay in his room and play with the new Xbox, that's OK too I suppose.
  • by patricksevenlee ( 679708 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:51PM (#8090595)
    Don't forget the, "I got sued by Microsoft and all I got was this stupid shirt" t-shirt :)
  • by ( 745257 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:51PM (#8090597) Homepage
    Sounds like Microsoft realized they were getting bad press, so bought him out with.. you guessed it, Microsoft freebie products. Now bad press turns into Microsoft product marketing. Those guys are brilliant in Redmond. Grrr...
    • ...and Microsoft has never bought out the competition before, right?

      -- This post has been brought to you by the letters 'S' and 'arcasm'

    • Exactly what should they have done to satisfy both parties?
      • by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:07PM (#8090864)
        Exactly what should they have done to satisfy both parties?

        Leave him the fuck alone.

        They knew full well that Microsoft(TM) do not have a legal leg to stand on in trying to get Mike Rowe to stop using his own name. If Microsoft thought they were right, do you think they would have caved like this? That would just be inviting domain squatters to taunt them.

        • by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:25PM (#8091120)
          I don't know about you, but if I were Mike Rowe, I'd MUCH rather have a bunch of nice stuff than a $10 domain name.
        • by j-turkey ( 187775 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @04:01PM (#8091665) Homepage
          They knew full well that Microsoft(TM) do not have a legal leg to stand on in trying to get Mike Rowe to stop using his own name. If Microsoft thought they were right, do you think they would have caved like this? That would just be inviting domain squatters to taunt them.

          First of all, although it's bad publicity, they have a leg to stand on, especially once you realize that this is not only about Mike Rowe using his own name (which it isn't at all...that's been done before with the Uzi Nissan/ case []). Now I don't know a damn thing about Canadian law (and very little about trademark law anyway) -- but Microsoft has enough cash and lawyers to bankrupt this kid (and his family) -- which means that after they bankrupted Mike Rowe (and his family) they'd win a summary judgement when Mike Rowe failed to show up for court.

          Secondly, Microsoft HAS to protect their trademark. This is not a simple case of a kid just using his name...I keep hearing this and I just think it's naive. Check out the Register article from the original slashdot post last week []. In it, they paraphrase him as saying he wanted a cool site with a name that sounded like the software giant (my paraphrase). If this is true, Microsoft has a case -- it's NOT just someone's name, and if Mike Rowe actually said this, it proves intent. Now, as far as how trademark law applies to homophones (and this is the crux of the case) -- I don't know. AFAIK, it hasn't even been tested. However, if MSFT's trademark was dilted in any way, or it is even perceivable that their trademark is being tested, MSFT is responsible (to their shareholders) to fight tooth and nail to preserve that trademark. Otherwise, Microsoft's trademark doesn't mean squat under law. If I ran a business that had a trademark to protect, I'd consider doing the same thing.

          Instead of looking bad and spending a shitload of money, they ended up looking like nice guys and spending next-to-nothing. Sounds to me like they did the right thing. A win/win situation. This is about the easiest settlement I've ever heard of. Do you think that every time someone settles, it's because they didn't have a leg to stand on? Do you have any idea how much it takes to go to court, especially when you know you will not benefit?

          I guess what frustrates me about this (I ranted alot in earlier coverage of this topic) is that this shows where Slashdotters seem to have the hardest time being objective. If they see Microsoft, they immeadately think "those bastards". If a company tries to protect IP or trademark in any way, slashdotters will jump and yell "bastards". If a big company with deep pockets sues a little guy, slashdotters will jump and yell "bastards". If there's ever a dispute over a domain name and a large orginization is involved, Slashdotters are quick to yell "bastards". Sure, alot of these guys are bastards (I'm not Microsoft fan), but it's pretty imporatant to at least try and learn the facts before taking sides.

          BTW -- if it's not immeadately clear from the post, IANAL.

        • Disclaimer: I don't want to sound like I'm defending Microsoft here, I hate Windows and despise MS's business tactics.

          IANAL, but I have been reading copyright/trademark law extensively lately. I'm helping a friend legally secure his band name, as well as exclusive use of the name on t-shirts, posters, stickers, etc. All of that is in the realm of Trademarks, more specifically, a subset called a "Service Mark."

          "Microsoft" is a trademark. Trademarks aren't like Copyrights. If a trademark owner knows som
    • by MrEd ( 60684 ) <> on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:06PM (#8090839)

      "All right boys, buy 'em out!"

      (Bill's thugs start smashing Homer's office)

      "What, you don't think I got this wealthy by writing checks, do you? Muahahahahahaha!"

    • Only on Slashdot would Microsoft's handling of this case be mutated into evil form.
    • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:35PM (#8091242)

      Shmuck: "Hey look, this guy's got a clever domain"

      Schmuck's manager: "This guy's ripping us off"

      Schmuck's manager's manager: "This could ruin us, rake him over the coals, call legal"

      Legal: "Hmmm... let's ask him to stop and see if he demands money"

      Mike Rowe: "$10? Are you nuts? That's not worth the hassle, not for something like $10k would I do it"

      Legal: "Congratulations, you're a cybersquatter, cease and desist or die."

      Mike Rowe: "Wow, these guys suck, I'm going to the press."

      Press: "Clippy slices 17-year old's jugular"

      Microsoft PR: "Holy shit!, get Bill's lackey, get Legal!"

      Bill's Lackey: "Geeze man, Legal, back off. PR, give the kid what any reasonable 17 year old would want for the hard work he's put into his domain. And throw in some extra stuff... not so much to make it profitable though."

      Marketing: "and get some brands into the press"

  • Technology? (Score:4, Funny)

    by sirReal.83. ( 671912 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:51PM (#8090607) Homepage
    'We wanted to do this in a way that's going to foster his interest in technology'

    Then what the hell is he going to do with a Microsoft cert?
  • by tbase ( 666607 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:52PM (#8090617)
    ...I'm sorry, that was just plain wrong.
  • No name change? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BHennessy ( 639799 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:52PM (#8090625)
    I would have thought the Microsoft would have wanted some change to the name of the company too? Surely the same problems will arise if he's still calling his business/site Mike Rowe Soft or whatever?
    • As a matter of fact, they took him to the courthouse to legally change his name to Joe Rowe to avoid any possible future trademark infringements.
    • Re:No name change? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GeckoX ( 259575 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:35PM (#8091245)
      No, because then that would be a Trademark case.
      MS wasn't charging him with that because they knew that they don't have a case there, they'd lose hands down. They played the prove-he's-a-domain-squatter card on him.

      Big difference.

      However, now that Mike Rowe has caved to MS, should he try to continue a company under the same name, MS will have HUGE ammunition in a trademark case because Mike Rowe has essentially admitted to attempting to profit off of a name similar to Microsoft...

      Man, that little turd's done all kinds of damage by caving to them.
  • Now, that worked out well for him (I suppose)

    Though, he should have know that the Red's were out of bullets. Then he could have traded away his pacifist medic! I hope he got bill gates to admit he likes ribbons in his hair and that he wants to kiss all the guys on the blue side.
  • Help him? (Score:4, Funny)

    by lxt ( 724570 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:53PM (#8090645) Journal
    I doubt his nice MCSE will help him get a job :)
  • by Nijika ( 525558 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:54PM (#8090652) Homepage Journal
    This is a good way out for both parties, really. While I don't dig Microsoft going after anyone for a domain name, it's a known tactic to squat on "near miss" domains. Usually the speculators aren't bright eyed 17 year old kids, and that tactic would be suitable for the usual bottom feeders. In this case though, where they clearly want to quash that domain, but not cripple some poor teenager, I like this.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:54PM (#8090658)
    I have never forgiven my parents for naming me Windows Crashes Too Much Jones.
  • by UnixRevolution ( 597440 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:55PM (#8090668) Homepage Journal
    He'll mod the X-box and run linux on it.

  • Call me devil's advocate, or whatever, but being as this kid obviously made a website of such a name as to bait and/or parody Microsoft, and then microsoft turns around and basicalyl rewards him for said this really the message people ought to be getting?
    • The kids name is Mike Rowe, he didn't make it up. He was trying to start his own little software company. Now, I'm sure he knew what he was doing when he registered the name, but frankly, I'm not seeing the problem.

      Now if it was me (granted, I'm not a 17 YO anymore), I'd have held out and told MS to bite my shiny metal ass.
  • ...depends on how you view the offerings. Mike's asked-for $10k versus:

    Microsoft certification training, an Xbox, an invitation to a technology festival at Redmond...

    Where you are on the Windows-Linux continuum will dictate how you see this. Also, the trolling possibilities are just endless - "MCSE pwnx0rs!!!11", etc...

    Gotta love that quote from Mr. Desler, though! Means to an end, indeed!

    - Wouldn't mind an Xbox and a broadband pipe to play it on

  • I'm going to register, and see if Microsoft, with help from Snoop Dogg, sues me for copyright infringement.
  • The kid is clever. I'm glad that MS relented, despite the fact MS knew they would win in court. Mike Rowe - Although we will forget all about you in like 3 months, good luck!
  • by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:58PM (#8090715)
    We wanted to do this in a way that's going to foster his interest in technology

    Shouldn't that be foster his interest in Microsoft?

    I mean come on, an X-box? An MCSE course? And I bet the migration to another webserver has to be to IIS and all.

  • Just shows how hard bad PR can hit ya. Like everyone said amazing that it is all free MS stuff. I like the free training, while they are there how about pitching in to pay for the test you guys. Would it not be cool to see this kid turn in to a white hat linux hacker after all the free stuff. oh well I'm glad he won his lottery, and I hope he doesn't get blacklisted from any future jobs that deal with MS.
  • by Klatoo55 ( 726789 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:01PM (#8090750) Homepage
    How far does this extend? Sure, you can sue phonetic copies, but what if someone makes a Is that infringement as well? Or maybe, or some other creative misspelling... What are the boundaries for this type of suit?
  • by kitzilla ( 266382 ) <> on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:01PM (#8090753) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft seems to have realized there was a good way out of this. Now they've protected their (rather bizarre) trademark claim without creating the appearance that they'll pay cash to domain squatters.

    Master Rowe gets a nice toy or two, and has a career track ahead of him.

    In the end, everyone smiles but the lawyers. Good.

  • at least Microsoft values good publicity more than the perverse pleasure of beating the crap out of a student. Actually, the whole thing is kinda funny. An Xbox? Why not just give him a bag of heroin and some junkie certification training.

  • I wouldn't have given the domain name up. If I put my name into a domain name or any other name, it's my name, and I can choose to use it how I want to. Mike Rowe Soft is a great name for a company, and anyone could have validly created a company with that name.

    It seems the kid was only interested in money, not the principle. In theory if my last name is 'Book' and my wife's last name is 'Rizzoli', and she hyhenates her name, she would be 'Rizzoli Book'. Just like the actual Rizzoli Books [] company.

    Should s
  • by suman28 ( 558822 ) <> on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:02PM (#8090769)
    He should have taken the first offer of $10. Atleast, that would have been worth something rather than the crap he got.
  • by Ezubaric ( 464724 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:02PM (#8090774) Homepage

    If you make someone think that you are someone else by using their logo/name, that's trademark violation. If you copy the site itself, that's copyright violation.
  • by Feyr ( 449684 ) *
    had he not gone for the 10000$ bounty first, he could have kept his domain AFAIK. from what i remember, in canada you can have a company named after yourself (ie your name is Doug McDonald, you could have a company including McDonald in its name)

    unless they can prove you are acting in bad faith (a fast food chain named McDonald and Sons)
    • Confusingly similar (Score:5, Informative)

      by BreadMan ( 178060 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:21PM (#8091073)
      Here are the rules [] for trademarking names and infringement. This is written for a non-laywer, so the english is fairly free of jargon.

      The commonly quoted case is that of LEXUS the law archival and search company and Toyota who wanted to use the same name of thier luxury division. LEXUS sued and lost.
  • by Rufus211 ( 221883 ) <[gro.hsikcah] [ta] [todhsals-sufur]> on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:03PM (#8090796) Homepage
    What I don't understand is why Microsoft didn't do this from the beginning. They send a legal threat and find out they're dealing with some kid. Instead of turning around to sue the hell out of the kid if they had just offered this from the beginning there would never have been any story and this would be a complete non-issue.
  • Is this Slashdot-legal again (eg "I'm going to trademark the wheel! And copyright Mikerowesoft! And patent the book I just wrote!") or was there copyright infringement occuring as well as trademark infringement?

    Serious question: The original Slashdot story said copyright too, but I followed all the links and couldn't find anything copyright related at any of them. It looks like the area of law involved here is trademarks, not copyright.

  • That It! (Score:5, Funny)

    by sherpajohn ( 113531 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:05PM (#8090827) Homepage
    I am changing my name to Winifred Dowes (the fact I am male is not relevant!). All my friends will now call me Win, please.

    My new Domain is gonna be

    Will I get any games with my x-box?
  • Yes, he had a nifty "parody" domain registered. And yes, he'd probably have been whupped in court over it. A lot of folks so far are griping that he got Micro$oft stuff -- cert course, XBox, etc. -- but what do we expect Micro$oft to be giving away? SCO licenses? Some folks are even speculating that he will be doomed to an IIS hosting service, even though we don't know if was a horrific FrontPage mess to begin with... I think somebody at MS finally saw that the heavy-handed approach was n
  • by philipkd ( 528838 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:16PM (#8091005) Homepage
    This was in 1996, I was 14, and I registered I then e-mailed and asked them if they had a problem with it, and they said in fact they did (I was surprised for some reason). They offered to pay me to transfer the domain name, and rather than taking the money, I just did it for free: back then internic let you transfer domains because of trademark disputes for free.

    The good deed was graciously recieved. After meeting up with some of the guys at E3, GameSpot then offered me a paid summer internship in San Francisco when I was 16.

    Bam! Those were the good ol' days.

    - Philosopistry []
  • by flacco ( 324089 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:18PM (#8091033)
    i hope his mom checks him for a freshly-shaved spot behind his ear when he gets back.
  • by samdu ( 114873 ) <> on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:21PM (#8091078) Homepage
    BetterWhoIs Domain Search []

    At least this Mike Rowe dude could make an argument that it was his fricking name.
  • by serutan ( 259622 ) <(moc.nozakeeg) (ta) (guodpoons)> on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:30PM (#8091182) Homepage
    Probably already been posted, but I wonder how these guys [] are managing to survive.
  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:31PM (#8091191)
    The real reason Microsoft sued is because when you say "Microsoft" into their speech-to-text converter you get...
  • Biased Against M$ (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bhima ( 46039 ) <Bhima.Pandava@gmail. c o m> on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:32PM (#8091195) Journal
    Come on guys! I use Linux at home, hell I even use NetBSD on my QUBE 2, I'm Pro Open Source and Pro Free Software as much as most of the folks here.

    But be honest! if this had been Gentoo, SUSE or any other Linux oriented company, giving this kid crap lying around in the marketing department would have been applauded.

    What the hell did you expect MS to give him?

    Redhat certified engineering courses?
    A free G5 Powermac with Steve Jobs' Autograph?

    Get real! Finally MS is doing the right thing (TM) and you STILLwhine!

    Now lets talk about XML patents!

  • by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:32PM (#8091197)
    Mike Roe Soft is indeed a soundalike to mic-ro-soft, on this point you can not debate. It took me a second after reading it to make the sound connection, what the hell does Mike Roe have to do with Microsoft, who is this Mike Roe person, what the hell does Micro.. oh yea.... is a much closer soundalike, and a hell of alot more likely to be a miss then Haven't you been in an office and had people yell "I was just checking my mail and I'm getting gay porn popups from hell".

    Why doesn't Microsoft go after sites that offer gay porn rather then products for the microcomputer? After all... some people might be offended by gay porn popups from hell, and might learn to associate Microsoft's mail service with gay nakid men.

  • by andy_geek ( 522404 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:36PM (#8091263) Homepage
    Micro$oft never changes their mind, never yields to public outcry, no matter how outrageously far they might have overstepped any particular line. In fact, as a company they've always sort of delighted in the fact that they didn't have to make decisions based on practicality and expediency: they've always wanted to world (read, competitors) to understand that they will do what they want, when they want and to whom they wish to do it.

    So, I think it's a pretty big thing when the Redmonster backs down, even over something this silly (and arguably, that they had no claim to in the first place). No, this is not like them apologizing to Apple for stealing-and-ruining their OS (or, to be fair, like Apple doing the same to Xerox-PARC) or changing their mind on just how hard it actually would be to de-couple the browser from the OS, but I think it's an indication of a subtle cultural shift. Maybe it was Ballmer's off-day?

    In addition, I commend young Mr. Rowe for taking as much out of them as they'd give, even if their motives were PR-driven rather than a sincere wish to right a wrong. Besides, the more experience he gains with ASP/.NET, the more he'll realize he was smart to be heading in the direction of PHP to begin with. *snicker*

  • by sTalking_Goat ( 670565 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:45PM (#8091417) Homepage
    time to register
  • by greygent ( 523713 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @04:19PM (#8091862) Homepage
    The CNN article doesn't say that Microsoft wooed him over with this set of cash and prizes. and judging by what the prizes are, I'd wager that Mike set these terms, and Microsoft said "okay".

    A win-win situation for both parties involved.
  • (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dfj225 ( 587560 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @05:08PM (#8092430) Homepage Journal
    Ok, so the domains, .info, .biz, and .us are open. If I have been reading things correctly and I register these, then I get a free Xbox and certification?
  • by jesser ( 77961 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @08:29PM (#8094646) Homepage Journal
    Why does Microsoft want to own Why didn't they just ask Mike to change to a page saying " has been renamed/moved to _MikeRoweForums.com_ to avoid confusion with the _Microsoft Corporation_."?
  • Copyright? (Score:3, Informative)

    by aonaran ( 15651 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @11:36PM (#8096514) Homepage
    Um, unless I missed something what the kid did was trademark infringement, not copyright infringement.
    He wasn't putting pirated MS software on his site, and I just missed that part, was he?

    "MicroSoft" is a trademark, not a piece of literature or other artistic work.
  • the only reason (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Monday January 26, 2004 @11:40PM (#8096546) Homepage
    the only reason they gave him an xbox at all is because it cost them less to give it away than to sell it, after the tax write off.

Were there fewer fools, knaves would starve. - Anonymous