Microsoft looks ready to abandon its new 'Dataflex' low-code brand

Just ahead of its expected public preview of its Dataflex low-cod-no-code platform for Teams, Microsoft has run into trademark issues.

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In late July, Microsoft announced a new brand related to its Power Platform and Teams products: Dataflex. Dataflex and Dataflex Pro were the new brands for Microsoft's Common Data Service (CDS), with Dataflex christened as the new name for CDS in Teams and Dataflex Pro, the rebrand of CDS itself. But there was a problem. Another company, Data Access Worldwide, already owned the Dataflex trademark.

A number of Power Platform and Dynamics experts immediately commented on the branding conflict. Microsoft Most Valuable Professional and Forward Forever Power Platform Advisor Jukka Niiranen blogged that Microsoft's new Dataflex brand already was being used in app-dev circles by Data Access since 1981.

There was a problem with the name from the outset. It belonged to Data Access Worldwide. On July 23, officials with Data Access noted their displeasure in a blog post entitled "Microsoft DataFlex?"

Data Access Corp. has multiple, registered U.S. trademarks for its "DATAFLEX" brand software, based on the first use in commerce in 1981, Data Access officials said. They claimed to be "totally surprised" by Microsoft's use of its trademark, and said they were consulting legal experts for advice. 

In July, Data Access sued Microsoft for trademark violation in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida (after sending Microsoft a cease and desist letter), according to an August 7 post on the Smith & HOpen patent  and trademark blog.

Starting on August 10, pages on Microsoft.com that referred to the Dataflex brand were resulting in 404s across the site

There are also now references to what Microsoft had been calling Dataflex with the new name "Project Oakdale."

Project Oakdale seems to be the codename for Dataflex for Teams. Microsoft was aiming to get a public preview of Dataflex for Teams out to testers as early as next week, I'm hearing, but I'm not sure if that's still the plan, given the trademark issue.

Microsoft's goal in bringing Dataflex/CDS to Teams was to try to give Teams developers a clear and simple app-development path inside the Teams platform.

I've contacted Microsoft and Data Access to ask if there's been a legal resolution to the branding issue. No word back from either company so far.

Update: A Data Access spokesperson sent the following statement: "There is ongoing litigation about our trademark so we cannot comment at this time."

Update No. 2: It looks like Dataflex will be getting replaced relatively soon as a Microsoft brand. A company spokesperson told me: "We decided to select a new name and we will share it in the coming weeks."