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Does Microsoft Have Walls After All?

"No Walls" Apparently Already Taken

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Microsoft is just not having much luck with the publicity of their latest $300 million ad campaign. I’m sure you are well aware of the Seinfeld fiasco. In case you’re not, Microsoft kicked off this huge campaign with a pair of long and drawn out ads featuring Bill Gates and comedian Jerry Seinfeld. While some enjoyed the ads, the overall consensus was that they were lame, annoying and/or pointless. In other words, they didn’t go over too well.

Microsoft then quickly went forward with "phase two" of the campaign, which includes the "I’m a PC" ads that were obviously a direct response to the Apple’s "I’m a Mac" ads, and you have probably seen on television repeatedly over the last week or so. These new ads went over a lot better with critics, but one company is less than thrilled with the entire campaign, and not because of the plots of the commercials or bad writing. They have a problem with Microsoft’s slogan.

The Microsoft ads say things like "Imagine no walls," and "Life without walls." The problem according to G.ho.st, is that they already have a pending trademark on the tagline "no walls". The company is demanding that Microsoft come up with something new, and G.ho.st CEO Zvi Schreiber has written a letter to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on the matter, which can be read here.

Microsoft does not feel threatened over the matter, however. A Microsoft spokesman told Kara Swisher at All Things Digital:

“We are aware of their concerns and believe their claims have no merit. We are not aware that Ghost has any trademark registrations or other rights that would be infringed by our ‘Life Without Walls’ campaign. To our knowledge, the right they have asserted, namely, a U.S. ‘registered trademark application,’ in the phrase ‘No Walls,’ does not exist.

“To our knowledge, Ghost has no trademark registrations or other rights in the phrase ‘No Walls.’ Even if they did, they cannot prevent others from using the words ‘no walls’ together in a sentence or in a descriptive manner in ad copy. Nor can they claim ownership in word ‘wall’ or the idea of a wall. The tagline for Microsoft’s new ad campaign is ‘Life Without Walls’–a slogan that, taken in its entirety, is not confusingly similar to Ghost’s purported ‘motto.’”

Hmmm, is G.ho.st just making this up? That seems odd. G.ho.st, which stands for "Global Hosted Operating System (the keywords being "operating system") is somewhat a competitor to Microsoft. Given Microsoft’s past reputation of anti-competitiveness, the whole thing smells a little fishy to me. It will be interesting to see if this turns into some major legal trouble for Microsoft, or if G.ho.st will just fall through the cracks as the technology giant’s $300 million campaign rolls on while consumers continue to live their lives having no clue what G.ho.st is.

Does Microsoft Have Walls After All?


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  • http://www.Tribal-Sports-Wear.net Wholesale T-Shirts & Apparel Club

    Wow, I’ve never heard of Ghost!

    That’s so funny, another company that’s out there that I have never heard of until Microsoft got connected some how. It is funny how this works, thanks to Microsoft’s new stupid ad campaign (for the record I think all ads are stupid, not just Microsoft’s), I now know one of their competitors (of sorts).

    Here’s some slogans for ya!

    I’m a PC, I go… Click, Click, Crash.

    I’m a Mac, I go… Click, Click, OS Not Supported!

    Just my opinion.

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    • Charlie

      Too bad you can’t keep your ridiculous opinion to yourself and you had to share it with the rest of us.

      • http://www.Tribal-Sports-Wear.net Wholesale T-Shirts and Apparel Club

        The Bill Of Rights is one of the most precious documents in our entire global history. If it wasn’t for that small and old piece of paper you would not have the rights to post your opinion. For that fact I wouldn’t either. However, regardless of how much respect I have for the free public exchange of opinions and ideas, which in this case I normally would not reply to and ignore. I do feel compelled to point out one small fact about your opinion. It seems that for some reason, my comments bothered you on such a deep level that you could not stop yourself from posting your criticizing comments towards me instead of the topic being discussed. Please do not worry though, I understand completely. Really I do understand totally.

        - My mother once told me that there is no such thing as a stupid idea, opinion or question, but you need to learn when to keep them to yourself.

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        • chingy

          the bill of rights portion you refer to is about government control. i don’t think this is a government site? blogs get edited for content all the time, and it has zero to do with the constitution, as far as a free speech issue might be concerned.

          protected speech is protected against government interference.

          this site ain’t no protected speech site

  • http://G.ho.st Zvi Schreiber

    Microsoft’s response which you reproduced above is nonsense:

    “We are not aware that Ghost has any trademark registrations or other rights that would be infringed by our ‘Life Without Walls’ campaign. To our knowledge, the right they have asserted, namely, a U.S. ‘registered trademark application,’ in the phrase ‘No Walls,’ does not exist.”

    They know this is wrong – we have rights in law by virtue of using the trademark NO WALLS as a prominent tag line (with the TM marking) for 17 months and we do now have a pending registration.

    “Even if they did, they cannot prevent others from using the words ‘no walls’ together in a sentence or in a descriptive manner in ad copy.”

    Microsoft are not using ‘no walls’ in a sentence. It is a prominent marketing headline on the Windows operating system home page.

    “The tagline for Microsoft’s new ad campaign is ‘Life Without Walls’–a slogan that, taken in its entirety, is not confusingly similar to Ghost’s purported ‘motto.’”

    Clearly ‘life without walls’ and ‘no walls’ capture the very same concept and are confusing. Additionally Microsoft are using the phrase ‘life without walls’ simultaneously to and related to actually using our exact tag line ‘no walls’ in the same campaign which seems to confirm they themselves consider these to be trivial variations of the same message.

    They are reportedly spending $300m on this campaign – I am sure for that money – if they wanted to – they could come up with something original which is not identical to the tag line, and infringing the trademark rights, of a small direct competitor.

    • Howdy

      This is so silly! If ghost goes for the tag line no walls, so be it. However, how they think they should have ownership of somethying so common is beyond me. it reminds me of an old issue of Batman where the joker attempts to copyright the entire alphabet! what seemed comical in my youth is now a preposterious fact in my middle years. I go along with the fellow that commented that ghost should concentrate on getting their product out of alpha.

      Meanwhile, I wonder if MS will use the no walls approach on this dandy new OS I am using. Mojave is simply a Krush Groove.

  • http://www.linknet-promotions.com RickH

    I don’t know anything about the specifics of this case, but to suggest that you could copyright the use of a phrase like "no walls" just sounds ridiculous. It may or may not be a lame slogan, but on the legal front, it seems like MS has a pretty strong point.

  • http://www.nbicomputers.com nbicomputers

    It does not supervise me that you have not heard of gohst.  I believe the reason behind that is that the company does not have its priorities in the right order.  Instead of worrying about a copyright infringement involving something as ridiculous as a two word phrase.  They should be concentrating on getting their product out of the alpha stage and finally into beta and then lastly into the mainstream environment so their product can actually be used by the general population.  Their product has been in alpha stage for at least 1 1/2 years.  If they ever released their product to the mainstream computer users then maybe they could then spend their time worrying about copyright infringement.  Why worry about an advertising phrase when your product is not even completed after several years of testing.

  • Guest

    From the MS web site "Imagine a life without walls", if you don’t have walls then why do you need Windows?

    I’am suprised apple or some else have not started an ad campaign using the wonderfull quote, "In a world without walls and fences, who needs Windows and Gates".

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