MS, Casio sued over 'trademark infringement'

Microsoft and Casio are being sued by Palm Computing, a subsidiary of 3Com, which alleges that the Palm PC hand-held computer infringes its trademark in Europe.

It is not the soon to be launched Palm PC's design that Palm Computing is upset about, but its name, which it says is confusingly similar to its own PalmPilot.

Palm Computing has filed law suits in Germany and Italy against the two manufacturers, and may eventually file suits in the US as well. Donna Dubinsky of Palm Computing says that a similarity in naming will confuse customers on the market for a hand-held.

The Palm PC will offer similar features to the successful PalmPilot, such as a contact manager, scheduler and expense tracker, and is a comparable size. What distinguishes it most is the use of Microsoft's Windows CE operating system, designed for smaller PC-based devices. Critics say that Windows, even in CE form, is unsuited to smaller products because it is too power hungry.

While Casio had planned to ship later this month or early in April, legal proceedings could delay availability.

Over 1.6 million PalmPilots have been sold, making it the world's most successful hand-held to date, and analysts say that the user base could reach 2.2 million by the end of 1998. Microsoft's designs on a slice of this success have worried its competitors, which point to Apple's withdrawal from hand-helds as a sign that the operating system vendor is on course to trounce yet another market.

UK-based Psion says that it is already feeling the pinch in a market where it has been European number one for a number of years.

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