Microsoft is being sued over its decision to use the name "Forefront" for its new security software.
Dexter & Chaney, which develops the Forefront Construction Suite software, has filed a lawsuit against the software giant in Seattle requesting an injunction that would prohibit Microsoft from using the name.
The company claims that it has used the Forefront brand on its software since 1988, and the software is used by more than 1,000 construction companies in the US for project management and accounting tasks. The company says it is concerned that Microsoft's use of the word will confuse customers using or considering its products.
"We're very concerned about losing 18 years of brand equity in the construction marketplace, based on Microsoft's actions," said Dexter & Chaney's marketing head Brad Mathews. "Construction companies throughout the United States know and respect the 'Forefront' name. By using that name in the construction industry, Microsoft will confuse our customers and prospects, and harm our company."
Microsoft's Forefront products are not specific to the construction industry but companies within it may buy or consider the product line.
Included in the Forefront suite are Internet Security & Acceleration Server 2006, Microsoft's edge security gateway that provides network protection against Internet-based threats, and Antigen, Microsoft's enterprise anti-virus and anti-spam software.
Microsoft announced in June it would brand its security products Forefront moniker. Matthews said Dexter & Chaney has asked Microsoft to stop using the name but the company has declined, which spurred Dexter & Chaney's legal action. Dexter & Chaney has 70 employees and an annual turnover of $14.2 million.
A Microsoft spokesman said that while it understands the importance and value of trademarks, Microsoft's use of the Forefront brand does not infringe on Dexter + Chaney's use because their products and audiences are so different. "In this instance, we believe the specific use of the name Microsoft Forefront will not cause any confusion in the marketplace," he said. "Microsoft's product is a back-end, server-based security product while Dexter & Chaney's product is a client-based software product intended specifically for managing construction projects."