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Change Leadership Authors: Jason Bloomberg, Charles Araujo, Sharon Drew Morgen


Is That Sound the Death Knell for Microsoft's Spreadsheet Monopoly?

Is That Sound the Death Knell for Microsoft's Spreadsheet Monopoly?

SavvySoft, a New York City ISV, says Microsoft is threatening to charge it with trademark infringement for calling its software TurboExcel.

SavvySoft says that when it called Microsoft in the spring to see if there was any problem about calling its stuff TurboExcel it was referred to a Web page listing Microsoft's trademarks.

Excel wasn't on the list and SavvySoft only found out later that Microsoft had only applied for the trademark this past April, 19 years after it started selling Excel. Microsoft doesn't have the trademark yet.

SavvySoft CEO Rich Tanenbaum says he doesn't know why Microsoft has singled TurboExcel out unless it's the fact that it can convert Excel models into C++ code that runs on Linux as well as Windows.

"If all the business logic written in Excel moves to C++, it's the death knell for Microsoft's spreadsheet monopoly," he said. Otherwise, he points out that Microsoft's own web site offers downloads of over a dozen products with Excel in their name. He claims that by not protecting its rights, Microsoft has already lost trademark protection.

Besides making Excel portable to Linux, SavvySoft says TurboExcel speeds up Excel spreadsheets as much as 300 times and secures and protects proprietary spreadsheet methodologies.

Tanenbaum, who's got to figure whether to spend $500,000 defending the TurboExcel name or $100,000 rebranding it, said that by using Excel to write computer programs in C++, Excel becomes a programming tool, which could help Microsoft sell more Excel.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at) or paperboy(at), and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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Most Recent Comments
Epsillon 11/20/04 06:01:28 AM EST

The world has gone crazy over what bits of one's original right to speak or use any word now belongs to corporations. Soon, we'll have to invent a new language just to communicate without getting sued.

UnknowingFool 11/20/04 05:57:12 AM EST

MS does not have a trademark and "excel" is a common word. This is the same argument that the tried when they wanted to trademark "Windows". They were turned down because the term was generic in both the real world and the computing world. Thus the names Windows 95, Windows 98, were born. MS can fight it but after 19 years, the first question the judge might ask is why they waited so long.

LawSton 11/20/04 05:55:31 AM EST

You can have a perfectly valid trademark without ever registering it. It is sufficient to use the mark in your trade, and registering only helps in resolving disputes.