COMPUTER GIANT Microsoft is threatening a civil engineering consultancy with legal action unless it stops using a 19-year-old subsidiary company name.
Manchester-based Brian Clancy Partnership set up Microsoft Structural Control Systems in 1980, a few months after the Microsoft trademark was registered in Britain but two years before the US company set up a British operation.
Last week the company received a letter from solicitors acting for Microsoft ordering MSCS to stop trading under its current name within 28 days or face legal action.
Senior partner Brian Clancy told NCE this week: 'We received a similar threat some 15 years ago, but never heard any more after we offered to sell the company to them. '
Trade mark attorney Liz Malarkey, of Croydon-based Raworth Moss & Cook said that under the 1994 Trade Marks Act the registered owner of a trade mark has six years to complain about an infringement.
'Even if Microsoft can prove genuine confusion and that they have been damaged by Mr Clancy's actions, it appears they are probably out of time to do anything.'
A spokesman for Microsoft said the company had been motivated by a desire to avoid consumers becoming confused. 'The solicitor's letter is not a threat but an invitation to discuss the matter. We would hope to reach an amicable solution,' he added.
But Clancy said: 'If that letter was an invitation I'd hate to receive one that was meant to be threatening.'