A French television presenter has sued Microsoft for "violation of intellectual property". Philippe Gildas accused the software publisher of illegally using the trademark "Vista".
Gildas registered the Vista in October 2003. This was two years before Microsoft registered its Windows Vista trademark with the INPI (French National Institute for Intellectual Property).
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Philippe Gildas had registered the Vista trademark for a television channel aimed at senior citizens, Tele Vista, which was to have launched in 2003. The Tele Vista project was delayed, but is now coming to fruition, with plans to launch the channel later this year.
Gildas sees Microsoft's hogging of the limelight with its new Vista operating system as an obstacle to that launch, and so he decided to sue, arguing that he registered the Vista trademark "in all entertainment and media categories: press, television, Web and so on."
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As in other jurisdictions, French trademark law recognises rights to the use of trademark only in certain categories of activity, allowing, say, a baker of baguettes, an onion-selling cyclist and a maker of berets to use the same trademark in their respective domains.
Gildas has indeed registered the Vista trademark in categories 35, 38 and 41, which covers the entertainment and media categories he cited. However, he did not register it in categories 9 and 42, covering software and the design and development of computers and software, the areas relevant to Microsoft's operating system. Given that the trademarks registered by Gildas and Microsoft are in different categories, it may be difficult for him to argue his case.