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Microsoft Dodges Claims Over Kinect Copyright

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - A motion sensor for Xbox video games does not infringe the trademark of a small, yet similar sounding, social networking application called Kinbox, a federal judge ruled.

Microsoft's Kinect device enables gamers to control and interact with the Xbox 360 console through speech and gestures, instead of a game controller.

In a September 2010 complaint, Kinbook said the proximity of "Kin" and "XBox" was confusingly similar to its Kinbox application, which helps users organize Facebook content.

U.S. District Judge Gene Pratter disagreed last week, entering judgment for Microsoft.

The Kinbox mark features a starkly different font than the Kinect mark, and the "visual appearances" of the marks are "wholly distinct," the judge found.

Use of the word "Kin," even when placed near the Xbox logo, is insufficient to show that Microsoft consumers would mistakenly associate the sensor with the Kinbox application, the 30-page decision states.

Microsoft also had a legitimate basis to use the term while marketing the Kin smartphone, Pratter said.

Unlike Kinect, Microsoft's Kin phone - geared toward younger consumers and tailored to social networking - met a tepid market response and was discontinued two months after launch.

Kinbook claimed Microsoft's phone infringed its mark because it used the word "kin" in connection "with on-line social networking software and applications."

But Pratter said the companies weren't even competing in the same industry."The market for mobile phones and for ... software applications are entirely distinct," she wrote.

Kinbook also failed to offer any evidence that its mark has "any sort of marketplace recognition," the judge added, noting that the Kinbox application has less than 17,000 active monthly Facebook users.

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