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U.K.'s Orange launches 'Open Office'

Wireless operator says its telecommuter services package won't be confused with OpenOffice.org's open-source suite.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor
Orange has repackaged some of its services for telecommuting workers into a portfolio called "Open Office."

Users of Orange Business handsets will be able to choose from a variety of services aimed at telecommuters and workers on the go, including broadband access in the home; a Wi-Fi/GSM dual-mode phone system called "Unique"; mobile e-mail; Orange's quad-band "Business Everywhere" data card service that allows mobile broadband access via 3G and Wi-Fi networks; and some dedicated-fee mobile-access plans.

"Our research indicates that increasing levels of home and flexible working will be one of the defining business trends of this decade," said Neil Laidler, acting vice president of Orange Business Services UK. "Rather than daily commutes to a fixed place of work, employees will increasingly expect to work productively from a variety of locations, whether at home or on the road."

Customers using Open Office will be offered one bill for all the services, as well as dedicated customer-service support.

However, it is possible that there might be some confusion over the name chosen by Orange UK for this portfolio of services, particularly because there is also a well-known open-source office-applications suite called OpenOffice.org.

The only reason that those behind the OpenOffice.org software suite do not use the name "Open Office" is that it is registered as a trademark in the Netherlands by an Ubuntu Linux-affiliated company. The co-founder of that Linux company, Wouter Hanegraaff, told ZDNet UK that his firm still occasionally must deal with confusion generated by OpenOffice.org's internationally implemented nomenclature, but he wished Orange well with its U.K.-based venture.

"We think Orange has chosen a really great brand name," Hanegraaff said on Monday. "As long as it's the U.K., we're not too worried. Should Orange want to extend their Open Office product to the Benelux (the economic union comprising Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemborg) under the same name, I'm confident that they'll contact us, as the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property has our brand nicely registered."

As for OpenOffice.org, a spokesman played down any potential confusion that might be caused by the name Orange has chosen for its portfolio of services. "OpenOffice.org doesn't have a problem with it--it's unlikely to cause confusion in the marketplace," said John McCreesh, marketing project lead at OpenOffice.org. "Our registered trademark is OpenOffice.org, and there's no hint of any orange color in our branding."

A spokesman for Orange UK said that the telecommunications company's use of the name "Open Office" should not create any confusion because it did not refer to a software package, and the term was not yet a registered trademark in the U.K.

David Meyer of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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