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Firm Tries To Ban Windows Trademark

February 20, 2000

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ A South Korean stationery company threatened Saturday to block Microsoft from using its Windows operating system label in its software manuals in South Korea.

Yangji Co. _ a Seoul-based company that produces pocket diaries, notepads and other stationery _ says it registered and began using the trademark `Window’ on some of its diaries in 1980, before Microsoft introduced its famous computer software.

Yangji won a seven-year legal battle against Microsoft on Friday when South Korea’s patent court rejected Microsoft’s attempt to repeal Yangji’s Window trademark in South Korea.

``It was a typical case of a giant company trying to wield its money power to do whatever it wants to do at the sacrifice of smaller companies,″ said Yangji president Kim Yong-se on Saturday.

With his trademark rights reaffirmed, Kim said he was considering filing a damages suit, accusing Microsoft of illegally using Yangji’s Window label on its software manuals published in South Korea.

Yangji has both `Window’ and its phonetic Korean script patented as trademark names for use in printed material in South Korea. The phonetic Korean names of Yangji’s Window and Microsoft’s Windows are the same.

The legal battle started in 1993 when Microsoft challenged Yangji’s label. Kim said Microsoft once offered to pay $1,000 to buy the trademark in 1996.

South Korean patent authorities and lower courts had ruled in favor of Microsoft, but Yangji appealed to the Supreme Court, which ordered a retrial in May last year. On Friday, the Patent Court reversed its earlier decision and ruled in favor of Yangji.

Officials at Microsoft’s Seoul office were not immediately available for comment Saturday.

With $36 million in annual sales, Yangji is South Korea’s largest producer of diaries.

Update hourly