December 6, 1996 5:30 PM ET

Gateway 2000 rides herd on shareware distributor
By Margaret Kane

  Gateway 2000 Inc. is fond of its cows.

So fond, in fact, that the North Sioux City, S.D., company has taken issue with a Canadian company, Tucows Ltd., which has festooned its World Wide Web site with pictures of the bovines.

Tucows (which stands for The Ultimate Collection Of Windows Software) is a Toronto company that currently operates 140 different mirror sites where it distributes shareware and freeware. The company generates its revenues through advertisements, although not nearly as much as Gateway, which had sales of $1.2 billion in its last quarter.

The site, started two years ago as a hobby of President Scott Swedorski, is dotted with cow profiles, cow heads and cow spots in homage to the acronym.

"It's had cows on there as long as I remember," said Ross Rader, director of marketing. "I can't remember a time when Tucows didn't have cows."

But in October, Gateway sent Tucows a letter ordering the company to "cease and desist" from using the Holstein images.

"Your company's use of Holstein cows and cow spots in connection with services relating to products of Gateway 2000 is likely to confuse and deceive the consuming public," read the certified letter, which Tucows has posted on its Web site.

Rader said the company's first reaction to the letter "was one of amusement."

"Obviously it is now taken more seriously," he said.

Gateway's lawyers are in negotiations with Tucows' lawyers, and Rader said he hopes the two companies will arrive at a negotiated settlement.

"Their specific request is they have called upon us to cease use of all of their trademarks," he said. "There's some question as to what those trademarks are, whether it's the cow, the whole cow and nothing but the cow or just a stylized view of the spots."

Gateway officials did not return phone calls.

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