Does Microsoft Have Walls After All?

    September 26, 2008
    Chris Crum

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, 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 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 just making this up? That seems odd., 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 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 is.