Scotland-based design agency Front Page Design has won a five-year trademark dispute against Microsoft

The dispute involved the use of the name Front Page by the Mac-using design firm. Microsoft objected to this because it uses the same name for its Web-design solution, FrontPage. Front Page the company has been trading under that name for 11 years.

The Trademark Registry in London ruled that Microsoft's objections were unfounded, granting Front Page Design the right to continue to use the name and to protect it by law. The court also ruled that Microsoft must contribute to Front Page's legal fees.

Delighted Ian McMillan, managing director of Front Page, said: "We're delighted with the verdict, although it has taken five years, of undue pressure, unwelcome distraction and the burden of lawyers' fees to reach this day.

"Microsoft may be one of the biggest companies in the world, but we had to protect our rights and our identity. We undertook this course of action to prevent Microsoft pushing us around. This result is a great relief - knowing there is no longer the threat of Microsoft forcing us to
change our name."

The MD alleged that: "Microsoft embarked on what was tantamount to a dirty tricks campaign, but in effect their efforts appeared quite amateurish. Initially, we were accused of bad faith and what amounts to making a false application to the Trade Mark Registry. Both points were rejected by the hearing officer on the spot."

Gordon McKenzie, Microsoft's manager for Scotland, told Macworld: "Trade names and trademarks are a complex legal area, and it is good for all parties to have clarity from the courts on this issue."

McKenzie hinted that the dust may not yet have settled on the dispute: "Microsoft looks forward to considering respectfully the ruling."