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Company Concedes 'Excel' Name to Microsoft

A niche software company says it will rename one of its programs, admitting defeat in a three-year effort to win money from Microsoft Corp. after it claimed the name was too close to Excel.

A niche software company says it will rename one of its programs, admitting defeat in a three-year effort to win money from Microsoft Corp. after it claimed the name was too close to Excel.

Microsoft warned New York-based Savvysoft in 2004 that name TurboExcel was too similar to the spreadsheet program the world's largest software maker started selling in 1985.

Rich Tanenbaum, Savvysoft's chief executive officer, said he thought he had a shot at keeping the name because Microsoft had not registered Excel as a trademark by the time TurboExcel was set to launch.

Tanenbaum said he tried to find a backer to fight Microsoft's trademark claim in court, with hopes of sharing a lucrative settlement with a venture capital group or a Microsoft competitor such as Sun Microsystems Inc.

But unregistered product names are still protected by U.S. trademark law if consumers could be confused by newcomers with copycat names, and Tanenbaum found no backer.

"We kind of knew we were going to have to change the name," Tanenbaum said.

Savvysoft used search advertising on Google to test new names for the software, which is used by a few thousand people to take complicated Excel formulas and save them as code that can be used by other programs. The winner? Calc4Web, which Tanenbaum said also refers to new features that export code for use on the Web. Savvysoft said it planned to launch the new software as early as Tuesday.

Microsoft confirmed that a settlement had been reached, but neither company would disclose financial details.

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