Microsoft has set its lawyers onto a 17-year-old software writer from Vancouver, called Mike Rowe, because he has registered MikeRoweSoft.com, which the company said infringes on its trademark rights.
Mike Rowe, who registered the domain name in August 2003, received an email from Microsoft's lawyers three months later asking him to transfer the domain name to Microsoft. They also offered to pay him a "settlement" of US$10, which is the cost of his original registration fee.
"I was surprised that they would offer such a little amount of money to persuade me to hand my domain over," said Rowe, who wrote back telling them that he had worked hard on the site and spent money printing stationary, but would be willing to give it up for US$10,000. In response, he received a 25-page letter explaining why Microsoft's customers could get confused between his site and their site.
According to Rowe's Web site, which is straining to stay online because so many people are dropping in to wish him well, Microsoft accused him of setting up the site only because he had the intention to sell the domain for a large cash settlement. "This is not the case. I never thought my name would cause Microsoft to take this course of action against me. I just thought it was a good name for my small part-time business," said Rowe.
Microsoft was not immediately available for comment.
ZDNet U.K.'s Munir Kotadia reported from London.