UK teacher’s Word Windows literacy tool sparks Microsoft trademark dispute | Dyslexia
It’s one of the biggest companies in the world, valued at over $1bn (£840bn) and celebrated for completely changing the face of technology in the office and at home.
But that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from getting riled up over a little plastic reading tool created by a Northampton teacher.
Kate McKenzie has found herself in a trademark dispute with the tech company over her children’s literacy device, Word Windows.
The plastic tool can be placed over a book page to isolate individual words, letters and their sounds in a window to help children and adults with dyslexia.
Shortly before launching its product in July, McKenzie, 40, received a letter from Microsoft. “I thought I was on the home stretch, but then they contacted me to say they objected to the trade name and brand, which was a double whammy,” she said. declared.
“It was obviously daunting. My heart just sank. It’s taken two years to get to this point, getting a product to market is so difficult, there’s so little funding.
“I just thought ‘God, what am I going to do now?’ You can’t beat Microsoft if you don’t have deep pockets.
McKenzie said it would be difficult to change the name of her product because she had already spent money on packaging, branding and manufacturing.
Although the letter left her head in her hands, she said her husband managed to see the fun side of Microsoft lawyers roaming the suburb of Northampton.
“He had a little laugh about it,” she said. “Don’t you think it’s quite funny that the giant Microsoft found you in Duston?”
Microsoft said it “cannot comment on ongoing legal issues.”
McKenzie decided to create the tool when she struggled to read as a student due to dyslexia, and her son encountered similar issues.
“The problem with technical dyslexics right now is that you take the word they’re struggling with and write it on a separate page. But that doesn’t help someone who’s trying to fluently read a story and gain enjoyment,” McKenzie said.
“It does it here and then on the page, so it’s very quick. The English language is built with a lot of prefixes and suffixes, so being able to highlight them and choose them very clearly, on a book, is very useful.
Last year McKenzie won a grant from the Business and IP Center Northamptonshire to help launch the product.
The tool is designed to be recycled and 30 pence from every product purchased will go to a separate community benefit company helping to raise literacy levels in the UK.
“I wanted to try to solve this problem of reading which is becoming something really dreaded and hated in some children,” McKenzie said. “I hope the product is really successful, but I also really want to tackle what is a very big problem in the UK and potentially other countries.”