February 28, 2012
Law Technology News
Questions Raised Over 'Next' Name as Bloomberg Updates Financial Service
Bloomberg on Monday announced a makeover for its financial news terminal service, borrowing the name of a competitor's product in the process.
The company said Monday that the Bloomberg Professional Service, which the company also referred to as Bloomberg NEXT in its announcement, has a simpler search engine, a more consistent style in its user interface, and a more logical workflow, as compared to the previous version. A third of the service's 300,000 customers have already implemented it since last fall, officials said.
Bloomberg held 30.44 percent of the $24.94 billion financial news and analysis market in 2011, edging out rival Thomson Reuters, which had 30.05 percent, according to a report last week from Burton-Taylor International Consulting LLC.
The "next" name is what stood out in the legal community. Bloomberg Law, which is a separate division launched in fall 2009, trails Thomson's Westlaw legal research division in market share. Westlaw had its own interface makeover in 2010, when it adopted the name WestlawNext.
"I think the confusion's going to extend from the fact that they've got Bloomberg Law now, which is separate from Bloomberg financial, and now they're rebranding Bloomberg financial with Bloomberg NEXT, which kind of sounds like the obvious name they'd be rebranding Bloomberg Law," observed Steven Lastres, director of library and knowledge management at Debevoise & Plimpton, and chairman of the American Association of Law Libraries' Private Law Libraries section.
"I'm shocked that they're rebranding [the terminal service]," Lastres continued. "The new tool, you'd think they would rebrand it [instead]," he said, referring to Bloomberg Law. "Maybe at some point they're thinking about merging both, because there's a lot of good information."
Lastres said a merged Bloomberg Law and Bloomberg Next service would be desirable if Bloomberg Next makes the financial side easier for lawyers to use. "That would make a lot of sense because that's where Thomson has failed," he opined.
Bloomberg did not respond to questions about why it chose the name and possible market confusion. However, spokeswoman Vera Newhouse asserted that the Next name is not a problem -- and not even the real product name -- despite copious use of the word in Bloomberg's press release, its web address of bloomberg.com/next, and in its Twitter handle of #BloombergNEXT.
"NEXT is not a trademark or product name -- it's simply a working title we use to describe this 'step change' evolution of the BPS to our customers," she wrote in an email on Monday.
Thomson officials declined to comment on whether they'll pursue legal action againt Bloomberg. However, "We shouldn’t be surprised that a competitor would attempt to imitate our success in the marketplace," said John Shaughnessy, vice president of corporate communications.
Robert Ambrogi, a legal technology consultant, blogger, and Law Technology News columnist, agreed that the word "next" is problematic. "It may be one of those things where it's too generic to copyright it," he said. "There would be a likelihood of confusion."
"Obviously WestlawNext is specific toward legal research service and Bloomberg NEXT is much broader than that," Ambrogi said. "But I would just think … even if there's not a trademark issue, just as a matter of marketing, you'd think they'd come up with their own name."
by Evan Koblentz, reporter for Law Technology News
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