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Trademark issues halt Microsoft's roll out of its new 'Dataflex' low-code service

(Image credit: Kevin Ku / Pexels)

Last month Microsoft announced a new brand called Dataflex that would bring low-code capabilities to both its Power Platform and Teams products.

The branding provides a new name for the software giant's Common Data Service (CDS) which is used to build custom Power Apps. Microsoft had planned to use the Dataflex name for CDS in Teams while Dataflex Pro would be the rebranding of CDS itself. However, there was just one big catch, the name was already being used by another company. 

In a blog post, Microsoft's most valuable professional and co-founder of Forward Forever, Jukka Niiranen provided further insight on the confusion surrounding the new Dataflex brand, saying:

“For the small minority of techies who have actually heard of the Common Data Service (or XRM), the need for inventing a new name for their beloved service that remains the same (i.e. Dataflex Pro) wasn’t very obvious. For the larger crowd that works with Office tools and Microsoft Teams, Dataflex is a brand new thing, which understandably has made MS think whether a brand new brand would also be useful at this point. Unfortunately the name “Dataflex” isn’t so unique that there wouldn’t be some clashing with non-MS products out there. In this case, there has been an existing trademark within pretty much the same application development domains since the year 1981 already.”

Trademark issues

While Microsoft thought it was announcing a new brand, the US-based Data Access Corporation already had multiple, registered US trademarks for its “DATAFLEX” brand software that was first used commercially all the way back in 1981.

Following Microsoft's announcement, CEO of Data Access Corp, Chip Casanave explained in a blog post titled “Microsoft DataFlex?” that Microsoft's new brand has nothing to do with its own DataFlex products, saying:

“Since we have received inquiries from customers confused by Microsoft’s announcement, this blog is to clarify that the new “Microsoft Dataflex” has nothing to do with Data Access Worldwide’s long-standing DataFlex products. There is no business connection between Microsoft and Data Access with respect to the DataFlex trademark; Microsoft’s new product has no technical connection to Data Access Worldwide’s DataFlex product.”

After sending Microsoft a cease and desist letter, Data Access then sued the company for a trademark violation in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Microsoft has since taken down all of the pages on its site that reference Dataflex and visiting these pages now results in a 404 error.

We'll have to wait and see if the company decides to rebrand Dataflex under a new name but given the demand for low-code apps, this will likely be the case.

Via ZDNet