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Lindows to Adopt Foreign Alias

Lindows to Adopt Foreign Alias

The Seattle court hearing Microsoft's trademark infringement suit against Lindows has told Microsoft that it can continue to sue Lindows in foreign courts on trademark infringement charges so long as Microsoft doesn't ask that the Lindows Web site be shut down as it has been in the Benelux.

It is the first ruling of any significance that the court, which may ultimately get to decide whether the Windows trademark itself is valid, has handed to Microsoft.

Federal Judge John Coughenour however indicated he wasn't altogether happy about it. He warned Microsoft "that engaging in litigation strategies that may be appropriate in other countries may not reflect well on counsel who still must practice before this court."

Microsoft sandbagged Lindows and got injunctions against it in Finland and Sweden before Lindows knew of either case. Microsoft has also gotten Lindows barred from selling in Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg and has similar cases filed in Canada, France, Mexico and Spain.

Lindows wanted the US case, which it has high hopes of winning, to be decided first, before Microsoft pursued its claims overseas, but Judge Coughenour said he was gravely reluctant to interfere in foreign proceedings.

Lindows CEO Michael Robertson complained of companies with deep pockets being given a blueprint for destroying their small competitors. "Even if you don't prevail (in the US), simply the number of lawsuits will overwhelm your victim," he was quoted as saying.

Robertson finds Microsoft's position inconsistent. It wants the European Commission to respect its US antitrust settlement but doesn't respect the Coughenour's decision allowing Lindows to operate under the Lindows name until the litigation has been resolved.

Despite Coughenour's restriction on Microsoft getting the Lindows Web site banned, Lindows says it's going through with its idea to pick out a different name for its Web presence and products overseas. It says it'll announce it on Wednesday, April 14, though since it's got more than 100 servers and thousands of Web pages, it'll take time to complete the transition.

It says that if it wins the US case and the appeals are over - it anticipates it may involve the Supreme Court - it's going to contact the State Department and ask the agency to petition foreign governments to invalidate the Windows trademark. Lindows claims its generic and can't be trademarked.

Because of its suit against Lindows, Microsoft finds itself defending its own trademark.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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Most Recent Comments
Derek Lambert 04/10/04 07:48:36 PM EDT

The fundamental problem lies with the Federal authorities permitting the "Windows" trademark in the first place. It was clearly nonsensical to allow it. "Microsoft" is a good trademark. My own company owns a number of trademarks, but they are no commonplace words in the English language as "Windows" is. In fact, "Lindows" has a better claim as a trademark, IMHO.

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