Lindows Seeks to Stop Microsofts Foreign Lawsuits

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2004-03-17 Print this article Print

With Microsoft winning in foreign courts, seeks to have the U.S. District Court block the software giant's international legal efforts to halt Lindows from doing business.

Besieged in Europe, where it recently has had to cease doing business in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, Inc. has submitted a motion to the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Washington asking the court to halt the flood of global trademark lawsuits Microsoft Corp. has filed against it.

While has prevailed against Microsofts multiple requests to have the company shut down in the United States, it has not fared so well in Europe. There, Microsoft has been successful in getting the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg (the Benelux countries) courts to forbid Lindows from doing business or face a 100,000 euro ($123,410) a day fine. In addition, Microsoft has had some success in similar cases against Lindows in Finland, France and Sweden, and the Redmond, Wash., company has recently filed another such case against Lindows in Canada.

Lindows tried to avoid the Benelux court fine by changing its name in the Benelux to "Lin---s" (Lindash). But the attempt failed on Microsofts appeal and Lindows has abandoned this approach.

"Microsoft is purposely delaying the U.S. case from going to trial while they use their monopoly profits to fund a global legal assault on our small company to halt the adoption of Linux," Michael Robertson, Lindows.coms CEO, said in a prepared statement. "The U.S. case has been ongoing for over two years and Lindows is looking forward to presenting extensive evidence to a Seattle jury demonstrating that windows is a generic word and that Microsoft secured a trademark only by committing fraud on the trademark office."

It is true that Microsoft has not had success in the U.S. courts. Indeed, some lawyers think Microsoft may be in danger of losing its Windows trademark, since the Western District of Washington court has ruled in favor of Lindows assertion that the jury should consider the historical use of the term "windows" in graphical user interfaces rather just its current usage as being synonymous with Microsoft Windows.

"On the eve of trial in the U.S., Microsoft has on one hand sought to delay, while on the other hand it has filed over a half-dozen cases around the world seeking the same preliminary injunction that Judge Coughenour twice denied two years ago," said Lindows lead trial counsel, Daniel R. Harris. "Were asking the court to prevent Microsoft from pursuing these foreign cases until the U.S. case is complete."

Next page: Lindows makes its case.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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