Microsoft may have opened up more than one can of worms when it recently leaked its internal project, codenamed ‘Tulalip,’ to the world.

Not only did the company have to answer to every major news organization over just what it was up to, but there is a potential legal headache looming between the company and the technical owners of the name, the Tulalip Tribes.

When the Tribes found out about the use of their name, they sent Microsoft a note on the matter. Microsoft responded as such: “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. We have no more information at this time.”

A State Representative, and Tulalip tribal member claims that there has been legally culpable infringement: “I have no idea what our tribal officials plan to do, but technically these Microsoft employees infringed on the Tulalip name.”

TNWmicrosoft called the Tulalip Tribes, and were told that they were in a fact-finding mode, and that leaders of the Tribes had yet to take a position on the matter. It appears that the Tulalip Tribes are striving to make sure that they fully understand Microsoft’s intentions before they consider whether taking any action is advisable.

For now, Microsoft has scrubbed the name from its websites, and will likely avoid its use in the future. An important question that Microsoft will have to answer will be whether the leak truly was accidental. If so, there was no willful infringement, it would seem. If the leak was intentional, then the company certainly could be in hot water.

TNWmicrosoft has a request for comment in with Microsoft, and will update this post upon hearing back from the company on the matter.

The top image is of the Tulalip Tribe’s health clinic.

Update: Microsoft’s comment: “We respect the fact that the Tulalip Tribes have sensitivities around the use of their name and have spoken with a representative of the Tribes.  This was an internal code name and Microsoft had no intention of using this project code name publically.  This internal code name will not be used in connection with this research project going forward.  We apologize to the Tulalip Tribes for this situation.”