July 22, 2011

Tulalip tribe protests Microsoft codename

More on the story begun in Microsoft Leaks "Tulalip" Search Tool:

Wash. tribe unhappy with Microsoft project nameWashington's Tulalip (too-LAY'-lihp) Tribes are unhappy that Microsoft has decided to use their name as the internal label for a new social media project.

Tribal officials are discussing the issue with company officials, and Microsoft Corp. said the name was never intended to leak outside the Redmond software company.

"Tulalip is an internal project code name for the online site Socl.com, which is an internal design project from one of Microsoft's research teams that was mistakenly published to the Web," a Microsoft spokesman said in an email to The Daily Herald. "We have no more information at this time."

Democratic state Rep. John McCoy, a Tulalip tribal member, heard that some Microsoft employees involved in the project live on or near the Tulalip reservation.

"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," McCoy said. "I have no idea what our tribal officials plan to do, but technically these Microsoft employees infringed on the Tulalip name."
Commenters react

Some comments on this article show what the public thinks about Indians:The Velvet Glove

Oh please. Give me a break.

Grow some skin, Tulalip Indians.

What is with everybody walking around with huge chips on their shoulders these days?


Is "Tulalip" copyrighted?

I suppose as a "sovereign nation" they wouldn't stoop to ask the US government for a copyright, which would imply the US is a higher power.

If these Microsofties called it "France," I guarantee the French ambassador would be giving interviews, saying how proud he was that Microsofties associated that name with the company's Next Big Thing.


The Tulalip Tribes are profit orientated. If they get a small percentage and name rights fee they are happy.

Just open a Microsoft store on their retail land and use it for free.


Really? Really?!

Someone, anyone anywhere is spending any brain power to complain about this?

It's not going to be the product's consumer name, for pete's sake, so how about using the grey matter to worry about homelessness or some such thing.

And why in the world did this become a news story?
Rob replies

To answer some of these questions:

The tribe obviously reacted to the initial story, when it wasn't clear whether "Tulalip" was the proposed name for the service. Duh. When the situation became clear, the tribe reacted appropriately.

Most tribal names aren't copyrighted or trademarked, I think. But the Tulalip tribe says it has trademarked its name. That should've been enough to silence the critics.

The real issue is the principle of the thing. It would be wrong to call the service "Barack Obama" without permission whether his name is trademarked or not. Same thing with a tribe's name.

I wouldn't bet a nickel that France wouldn't protest the use of its name. Much less "guarantee" it. On the other hand, if Microsoft had named the service "IBM" or "Disney," I'd guarantee that these businesses would object. As a general rule, no one wants their name applied to products and services without permission.

You gotta love the whiff of racism in these comments. Indians are ignorant: They don't understand internal codenames. Indians are crybabies: The few minutes the spent addressing this issue was a waste of time. Indians are hypocrites: They'd love the codename if they were paid for it.

Corporations protest naming appropriations like this all the time. For instance, when a casino company opens a hotel or nightclub whose name is already used elsewhere. Will these commenters also speak up the next time one of these incidents occur?

No, because they're not supporting the right of businesses to appropriate names. They're supporting the right of anyone to appropriate Indian names. In other words, they're objecting to Indians alone trying to control their intellectual property. They're objecting because they're racists.

End of the story

Microsoft Appeases Tribe Over 'Tulalip' Code Name

By Peggy WattIf it's not enough that Microsoft had to scramble when a reference to its apparently semi-secret social networking project, Tulalip, slipped out, the software giant then had to deal with trademark concerns by the neighboring Tulalip tribe.

The 22,000-acre Tulalip (Tuh’-lay-lup) reservation is north of Microsoft's Redmond headquarters. The Tulalip Tribes operate a casino and resort, amphitheater, and outlets shopping center adjacent to Interstate 5. Apparently its name--and perhaps its success?--inspired the members of the Microsoft team who needed a code designation for their project.

The tribal council was not amused when Microsoft's project name leaked, and pointed out that the tribe's name is trademarked. Microsoft hastily contacted tribal officials, apparently convincing them that the term was intended for internal use only.

A statement by the Tulalip tribe's board of directors sent to local newspaper The Herald acknowledged the communication, stating, "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."
Comment:  I'd love to hear what the commenters would say if Tulalip decided to name a nightclub "Microsoft." If Microsoft objected, would they dismiss its objections as a whining waste of time?

I'm guessing not. In fact, I bet they'd blame the tribe for being greedy and insensitive. The common denominator would be "Indians bad"--in other words, racism.

For more on Native intellectual property, see Are Native-Inspired Fashions Okay? and Sweat Lodge Trial Begins.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yahoo used Inktomi, though at least that one makes some sense, spiders and webs.