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March 17th, 2000

[2:00 PM] Another One Bites The Dust: Microware Suit Against Apple Dismissed
by Bryan Chaffin

Rack up another one for Apple's legal team. Apple announced today that a lawsuit brought by Iowa based Microware against Apple for trademark infringement has been dismissed. Microware makes an operating system called OS-9 for embedded processors. Coincidentally, this operating system works on PowerPC processors as well as other processors. The company brought suit against Apple in September of 1999 after Apple announced what would go on to become Mac OS 9. Apple originally introduced the release as OS 9, hence the basis for the suit.

As Apple was not competing in the embedded processor space, the US District Court ruled in Apple's favor citing "Fair Use." According to Apple:

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa has dismissed Microware Systems Corporation’s lawsuit seeking to enjoin Apple from using the name "Mac OS 9" for its current operating system release.

In dismissing the case, the court held that Apple is entitled to use the Mac® OS 9 name under the doctrine of "fair use". The court also issued an order denying Microware’s motion for a preliminary injunction.

This marks another in a string of legal victories for Cupertino based Apple. Apple has recently won injunctions and settlements with Daewoo and SOTEC for making PCs that borrowed from the iMac.

The Mac Observer Spin: Apple's legal team is going to develop the reputation of being really good if they're not careful.

We predicted that this case would be settled out of court when it was first announced last year. Apparently Apple thought they could win and likely didn't offer a settlement, so we didn't quite get that right. While OS 9 is a clear violation of Microware's trademark, the point of trademarks is to prevent confusion in the marketplace. To quote our analysis in September, it is not likely that an embedded processor developer is going to go shopping for an embedded processor operating system and accidentally pick up a copy of the Mac OS. Oops! As such, Apple does not actually violate the company's trademarks.

That said, it was necessary for Microware to pursue this case in order to protect their trademark. Companies are required to protect their trademarks from all violations of which they have knowledge. Microware has now done so and shouldn't have any trouble maintaining this trademark in their own field. Observer attorneys are encouraged to correct us if we have that wrong.

Apple - Microware

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