Just recently, Microsoft ‘accidentally’ revealed a new social media site code-named “Tulalip” which appeared to be a “social search” service by the company. Now, members of the Tulalip Tribe are upset with the company for ‘infringing’ on their name.
“With Tulalip you can Find what you need and Share what you know easier than ever”, reads a message on the Tulalip homepage which has long since been taken offline. Microsoft eventually issued a statement regarding the site. “Socl.com is an internal design project from one of Microsoft’s research teams which was mistakenly published to the web. Thanks for stopping by. Socl.com is an internal design project from a team in Microsoft Research which was mistakenly published to the web. We didn’t mean to, honest.”
Some tribal members are now upset that the company named the project “Tulalip,” saying that Microsoft infringed on the tribe’s name.
“Tribal officials are talking to people at Microsoft to determine the facts. At this time, while those discussions are going on, we are not commenting,” said Tulalip spokesperson George White. “By all accounts, it’s an internal project at Microsoft and not a public thing. But in reality they should not have named it Tulalip. I have no idea what our tribal officials plan to do, but technically these Microsoft employees infringed on the Tulalip name,” said another tribe member.
Lets just wait and see what the outcome of this will be. Do you guys think that Microsoft will be sued for infringement by the Tulalip Tribe and change their social search project’s name, or will Tulalip just have to bite their tongues on this one?
*Update – 07/22/11*
Microsoft has issued a statement regarding this. “We respect the fact that the Tulalip Tribes have sensitivities around the use of their name and have spoken with a representative of the Tribes. This was an internal code name and Microsoft had no intention of using this project code name publically. This internal code name will not be used in connection with this research project going forward. We apologize to the Tulalip Tribes for this situation.”
Tulalip’s Board of Directors issued a response to Microsoft’s statement: “We accept Microsoft’s explanation that this was an internal code name that was never intended to be used publicly. We appreciate Microsoft’s swift corrective action, and we consider this matter resolved. We have a good relationship with Microsoft and expect that relationship to continue.”