Microsoft vs. Mikerowesoft
VANCOUVER, B.C. - Mike Rowe knew he needed a catchy name for his Web site design company.
"Since my name is Mike Rowe, I thought it would be funny to add 'soft' to the end of it," said Rowe, a 17-year-old computer geek and Grade 12 student in Victoria, British Columbia.
As in, but not quite, Microsoft Corp.
But the folks at the world's biggest software company are not amused. They've demanded that he give up his domain name.
Rowe registered the name in August. In November, he received a letter from Microsoft's Canadian lawyers, Smart & Biggar, informing him he was committing copyright infringement.
He was advised to transfer the name to the Redmond, Wash.-based corporation.
"I didn't think they would get all their high-priced lawyers to come after me," Rowe said.
He wrote back asking to be compensated for giving up his name. Microsoft's lawyers offered him $10 in U.S. funds. Then he asked for $10,000.
On Thursday, he received a 25-page letter accusing him of trying to force Microsoft into giving him a large settlement.
"I never even thought of getting anything out of them," he said, adding that he only asked for the $10,000 because he was "sort of mad at them for only offering 10 bucks."
He said family and friends are backing him and a lawyer has offered to advise him for free.
He's also keeping his sense of humor.
"It's not their name. It's my name. I just think it's kind of funny that they'd go after a 17-year-old," Rowe said.
Company spokesman Jim Desler said Sunday, "Microsoft has been in communication with Mr. Rowe in a good faith effort to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. And we remain hopeful we can resolve this issue to everyone's satisfaction."