Microsoft Smites the PowerPoint Princess...

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Microsoft Smites the PowerPoint Princess

Have you ever noticed how big business often exhibits little common sense? As if they had nothing better to do, Microsoft has sicced the lawyers on a tiny, one-person part-time consulting business. Their attorney said I could no longer use the URL of ? despite the fact that I have used it for half a decade. She said that my use of the name would dilute their trademark, and might confuse people into thinking my site was endorsed by Microsoft.

From what I have read about domain names using trademarks, the jury is still out. It is my understanding that for now, it is ok to do so as long as you are not trying to deceive people into thinking your Web site is affiliated with the owner of the trademark, trying to take business away from that company, etc. My Web site clearly shows that I am actually promoting Microsoft. But I can?t fight them and their plan to cut off their nose to spite their face. Even if the law is on the side of the little guy, who can afford to go up against the Giant?

In reality, the PowerPoint horse has long been out of the barn. Use of the word ?PowerPoint? as a noun (a registered trademark no-no) has become ubiquitous. Every day there are hundreds of articles, ads and announcements saying things such as ?We teach PowerPoint? and ?Let us design your PowerPoint,? etc. And these without a registered trademark symbol! Some of these commercials are from my competitors. Microsoft cannot get every company, organization, church, and publisher to stop making such statements. By preventing me from using the P word in my URL, potential clients will no longer instantly know that I offer PowerPoint® presentation services, and therefore will turn to my competitors. Is this not an example of restraint of trade?

I pleaded for Microsoft to reconsider forcing me to give up my name in view of various facts such as:

? I have never had a company with ?PowerPoint? in its name. However, I have been known by friends, clients, and students as the ?PowerPoint Princess? for about nine years. During that period of time, the moniker has caused no one to think I worked for, with, or represented Microsoft or the PowerPoint application.

? I have held the domain name of since 2001. Not one person who saw that site during all those years ever thought I was connected with Microsoft or the PowerPoint application.

? The alliteration and royalty-based humor inherent in the phrase ?PowerPoint Princess? has provided me with instant name recognition, instant clarity as to the type of services I offer, and instant implication of my expertise.

? Despite this world of workplace stress, announcing myself as ?The PowerPoint Princess? when I call a business almost always results in a chuckle from the receptionist, and entrée to speak with the person I seek.

I would like Microsoft to be supportive of my message and embracing of my work, as I am of Microsoft. Ten years ago I broke out of the bullet-point mold. Since then I?ve been spreading the word about how remarkably flexible and powerful PowerPoint software really is. And consistent with the light-heartedness of the name ?PowerPoint Princess,? I also surprise people by showing them that there is a fun, creative side to the PowerPoint application as well. In fact, one of my teaching venues has been cruise ships. During my class on PowerPoint Photo Album on a recent cruise to Alaska, one student, astonished to see the many special effects I demonstrated, held his head in dismay and said out loud ?Why did I buy Adobe??

It is ironic that over the years, I actually have been helping the Microsoft Corporation in ways beyond what it has done to help itself. Examples include giving talks at special education conferences about how PowerPoint can be used in the classroom -- long before any one else was doing it; drafting a curriculum for young children on how to use PowerPoint presentation software as drawing tools; giving lectures, presenting posters and teaching seminars both nationally and internationally on how to use PowerPoint features as tools for people with low vision; teaching classes on the surprising things you can do with PowerPoint Photo Album; demonstrating to scientists how they can use PowerPoint slides to both display and analyze optical illusions; showing scientists how to use PowerPoint Drawing Tools to create visual stimuli for experiments; and even showing litigation attorneys how to use PowerPoint presentations to win their cases (it?s worked every time).

I am currently developing a course (which has potential to become a book) on making digital scrapbooks with PowerPoint presentation software. I am also designing a gallery of amazing things you can do with the application. Both will be full of the wonderful, but little-known, uses and special effects that can be made using PowerPoint features.

Despite repeated pleas to the Microsoft attorney, I was forced to stop using the URL on April 17.

Once again, big business prevails and the little guy fails. The result will hurt everybody ? including Microsoft.

This article was written by Debby Gilden, Ph.D., freelance PowerPoint® designer and instructor. Please visit my Web site

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* Government Statistics on Legal Verdicts and Jury Awards - $ U.S. district courts terminated approximately 512,000 civil cases during fiscal years 2002-03. Nearly 20% or 98,786 of these cases were torts in which plaintiffs claimed injury, loss, or damage from a defendant’s negligent or intentional acts. $ Of the 98,786 tort cases terminated in U.S. district courts in 2002-03, about 2% or 1,647 cases were decided by a bench or jury trial. $ An estimated 9 out of 10 tort trials involved personal injury issues C most frequently, product liability, motor vehicle (accident), marine, and medical malpractice cases. $ Juries decided about 71% of all tort cases brought to trial in U.S. district courts; judges adjudicated the remaining 29%. $ Plaintiffs won in 48% of tort trials terminated in U.S. district courts in 2002-03. Plaintiffs won less frequently in medical malpractice (37%) and product liability (34%) trials. $ Eighty-four percent of plaintiff winners received monetary damages with an estimated median award of $201,000. $ Plaintiffs won more often in bench (54%) than in jury (46%) tort trials. The estimated median damage awards were higher in jury ($244,000) than in bench ($150,000) tort trials. April 2006 - A Jury in New Jersey found last week that Vioxx significantly contributed to a 77-year-old man's heart attack awarded him $9 million in punitive damages yesterday, raising Merck & Co.'s liability in the case to $13.5 million and intensifying pressure on it to settle such lawsuits. Example of Personal Injury Case 2004 : Ford Explorer rollover-prone and roof not crash safe and worthy- CASE TYPE : Product Design Defect, Auto Truck Vehicle - SUV, Motor Vehicle – Rollover CASE : Buell-Wilson v. Ford Motor Co., San Diego Co., Calif., Super. Ct. GIC 800836 Los Angeles, Calif. JURY VERDICT: $369,000,000 (369 Millions Dolalrs 2005 - In what may be one of the biggest massive medical malpractice tort verdicts in the state of Texas, a state jury awarded $606 million - including a remarkable $ 600 million dollars in punitive damages - to the family of an 82-year-old patient who had cancer and then who died after receiving an overdose of chemotherapy drugs. 2005 - In the 9th big loss for Ford in SUV Explorer rollover cases, a Florida jury awarded $61.2 million to the parents of an 18-year-old boy who was killed in a 1997 (wrongful death & Product Defect and Product Liability Issues) Example of Personal Injury Lawyer Case 2004 : Dodge Caravan seatback collapsed on baby in a car-seat - CASE TYPE : Automobiles, Products Liability - Product Design Defect, Wrongful Death, Motor Vehicle - Rear-ender, Motor Vehicle - Passenger, Motor Vehicle - Minivan CASE : Flax v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., Davidson Co., Tenn., Cir. Ct. O2C-1288 JURY VERDICT : $105,500,000 (105 Million Dollars 2005 – Billion Dollar Verdicts - In one of 2005's largest verdicts to an individual plaintiff regarding financial fraud , a Florida jury ordered Morgan Stanley Broker Dealer to pay $1.45 billion to investor Ronald O. Perelman for defrauding him in the sale of his camping gear company - Coleman. 2005 - February, a prominent Houston law firm and a Texas bank were SMACKED and Beaten with a $65.5 million verdict in a highly complex estate planning case that involved major problems and conflicts of interest. (65 million dollar jury award) 2005 – 3 years after a jury acquitted a company in Florida of manslaughter and criminal charges, a Florida civil jury SLAMMED the outdoor advertiser with a $65 million jury award verdict for the shock and electrocution of a sixth-grade boy. Age Discrimination - In December, a Los Angeles California jury found that PrivatAir - an aviation company focusing on private airline services - wrongfully fired Captain Doyle D. Baker on the basis of his age, defaming him in the termination process and causing extreme emotional distress.

Punitive damages serve a number of important functions which—despite a few horror stories, which are themselves either apocryphal or overturned in the courts, the functions remain valid and in the public interest. Persons causing great harm—persons deliberately or with gross negligence causing great harm should not view paying damages as merely a cost of doing business, a cost that might fit neatly into a risk analysis of wrongdoing. That is what happened in the Ford Pinto case in which the cost of paying claims to victims of a known deadly hazard was deemed less than the cost to retool the assembly line, and thus the hazard was maintained knowing full well that further people—more people would be injured or killed. This is the purpose of punitive damages, to punish this kind of egregious wrongdoing, and to deter, to be a deterrent to such conduct. It is not immediately clear why a deterrent—or the necessity of the deterrent should bear any great relationship to the amount of actual damages in a given case. There is nothing wrong and indeed something highly desirable in maintaining this disincentive to wrongdoing in an appropriate relationship to the harm and the conduct of the tort-feasor. This trend has led one commentator to suggest that ''[p]unitive damages have replaced baseball as our national sport.'' Theodore B. Olson, Rule of Law: The Dangerous National Sport of Punitive Damages, Wall St. J., Oct. 5, 1994, at A17. See also Malcolm E. Wheeler, A Proposal for Further Common Law Development of the Use of Punitive Damages in Modern Products Liability Litigation, 40 Ala. L. Rev. 919, 919 (1989) (''Today, hardly a month goes by without a multimillion-dollar punitive damages verdict in a product liability case.'').  


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