Travel search engine Kayak is accusing Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) of basically ripping off some of its features in its revamped search engine, which puts a heavy emphasis on travel search. And, indeed a quick look at Kayak and the Microsoft travel search offering — dubbed Bing Travel — shows that the two sites look strikingly alike, with similar ways to break down results (Click on the image to the left to see how both sites look).
Wired.com reports that Kayak sent Microsoft a “legal letter” last week saying that the design of Bing’s travel search was “confusing Kayak users.” Says Kayak chief marketing officer Robert Birge very diplomatically, “From the look and feel of their travel product, they seem to agree with our approach to the market.” Microsoft, however, has had a travel search engine for more than a year now, which has looked basically the same as the one it renamed Bing, so it’s not exactly clear what new features in the updated travel search engine Kayak is upset about.
A Microsoft spokeswoman denies the accusations and tells Wired that the company is “discussing the matter with Kayak.” Nevertheless, it’s a rare setback for Microsoft, which so far has seen very positive buzz around the relaunch of its search engine. A Kayak representative said Thursday that the company would not release the letter it had sent Microsoft.