Palm Computing filed lawsuits in Germany and Italy against Microsoft on Thursday, stating that the "Palm PC" designation will cause too much confusion among consumers. Palm Computing is the subsidiary of 3Com that manufacturers the Palm Pilot, which the Palm PC looks suspiciously similar to.

"We believe that their use of Palm PC to describe their product is an infringement of our trademarks and we think it's going to cause our customers to be confused about what they are buying and what they want to buy," said Donna Dubinsky, the president of Palm Computing.

Unlike the Palm Pilot, Palm PCs are manufactured by a variety of companies, but all Palm PCs run Windows CE 2.0, the Microsoft operating system. The Palm Pilot sells far more units than all of the CE devices combined, though the new Palm PC variants aren't due to hit stores until this month or April.

Microsoft says that the name "Palm PC" is generic, and that it will localize the title of the devices for different markets. In Germany, for example, Palm PCs will be known as "Taschen PC"s.

"For our English-language product, we use the term 'palm' in Palm PC to describe the size of the device," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "We don't see how the name Palm PC conflicts with the name PalmPilot.