Tulalip Tribes question Microsoft about name for company’s social media project

TULALIP — It got the techies buzzing.

One day last week, Microsoft published online a prototype of an uber-secret social media design project.

Here’s the kicker: The project name was “Tulalip.”

Across most of the country, it left people wondering if Facebook had a challenger and it got them searching Wikipedia and Google to find out about the name.

For a certain group of American Indian tribes in Snohomish County, it meant discussions with Microsoft officials.

“Tribal officials are talking to people at Microsoft to determine the facts,” said Tulalip spokesman George White. “At this time, while those discussions are going on, we are not commenting.”

At Microsoft, an unidentified corporate spokesperson responded by email to a request for information about the “Tulalip” social network.

“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,” according to the email. “We have no more information at this time.”

Tulalip tribal member, state Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, heard that some of the employees of the computer software company 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.”

John Echohawk, the executive director of the Native American Rights Fund, agrees. The Colorado-based nonprofit law firm he oversees is dedicated to defending the rights of American Indian tribes and individuals.

“It’s really a matter of common courtesy, not to say anything of the legalities,” Echohawk said. “It’s the tribes’ name and nobody should run off and use the name without permission.”

McCoy laughed when a reporter floated the idea of a new casino game named the “Microsoft.”

“Well, they take plenty of people to court over intellectual property rights,” McCoy said.

On Friday, a writer for HuffingtonPost.com, along with bloggers from around the world, speculated that perhaps Microsoft launched “Tulalip” as a social networking service to compete with Facebook and Google+.

The site’s introductory page said, “With Tulalip, you can Find what you want and Share what you know easier than ever.”

Also shown were non-working links for “See how it works,” “Privacy Statement,” and “Terms of Service.”

The splash page was replaced the same day it appeared with a message acknowledging the error: “Thanks for stopping by. Socl.com is an internal design project from a team in Microsoft Research which was mistakenly published to the web. We didn’t mean to, honest.”

Gale Fiege: gfiege@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3427.

Correction: July 21, 2011: In an earlier version of this story, the headline incorrectly stated the tribes’ actions.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Suspected impaired driver crashed with Edmonds police officer

Both the driver and officer were injured Friday night and taken to Harborview Medical Center.

Everett killer sentenced to 43 years for fatal home invasion

Edmond Overton, 26, broke into a home and shot two men in October 2017. One of them died at the scene.

Why does a left-turn signal go green when no cars are there?

A commuter noticed the anomaly at an intersection on Everett Mall Way.

Please stop killing bumble bees: They’re not ‘murder hornets’

Beekeepers say residents are mistaking bees and wasps for Asian giant hornets.

Seniors from Marysville schools mark accomplishment with parade

In an attempt to make up for losing the usual graduation, parents planned a city-wide parade Friday.

Burglary suspect identified after fatal Everett break-in

A homeowner shot the man Thursday morning. The slain man had served much of his adulthood in prison.

Edmonds mayor removes finance director with no cause given

Scott James joined the city in 2014. He’s the third department director to leave in the past year.

Neighbors oppose Everett’s possible sale of 92.5 wooded acres

The city has owned the land around Wood Creek, which was once its water supply, for decades.

Watch Gov. Jay Inslee’s Monday news conference here

He is to talk about statewide demonstrations over the weekend.

Most Read