Exits Benelux in Face of Fine

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-03-12 Print this article Print
  on Friday stopped selling its products in the Benelux countries after Microsoft asked a Dutch court to fine the company more than $120,000 a day. Inc. on Friday stopped selling its products in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg after Microsoft Corp. asked a Dutch court to fine it 100,000 euro ($123,410) a day. A Dutch court in January had temporarily barred, of San Diego, from selling its Linux-based operating system in the three European countries, known as the Benelux countries. But tried a novel approach in February to continue doing business there. It changed its name for those markets to "Lin---s" (Lindash) and launched a new Web site under that name. Microsoft earlier this week fought back when it sought the fine in a court filing, alleging that has not blocked visitors from the Benelux countries from its Web site and that "Lin---s clearly refers to Lindows" and continues to violates its Windows trademark.
"We do feel that they clearly are violating the terms of the preliminary injunction order," Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake said on Friday. "This matter could be easily resolved if they just changed their name."
While Microsoft says it is defending its Windows trademark, CEO Michael Robertson views the software giants latest legal move as an attempt to shut his company down. has attempted to block visitors from the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg by adding a notice to its main site informing those visitors that they are not authorized to access or make purchases from the site. The company also has replaced the content on its Lindash site with a similar notice. "We have completely withdrawn our products from these markets and put notices on every page of our website, yet Microsoft is still asking that the judge fine us 100,000 euro per day because non-U.S. visitors can view our U.S.-based website," Robertson said in a statement. "Microsofts actions demonstrate this has nothing to do with protecting their Dutch trademark or confusion in the marketplace, but is simply an attempt to put us out of business," he said. has appealed the temporary injunction against it, a spokeswoman said. The next hearing in the trademark infringement case is set for March 30. Microsoft has challenged Lindows.coms use of a name similar to "Windows" across North America and Europe, claiming it violates its trademark. While gaining temporary injunctions against the use of the name in the Benelux countries, Sweden and Finland, Microsoft hit a snag in February in its U.S. case. A federal judge, siding with, ruled that the jury in the stateside case should consider the historical use of the term windows in graphical user interfaces rather just its current usage as being synonymous with Microsoft Windows. The ruling has led to some experts to question whether Microsofts Windows trademark might be at risk. Check out eWEEK.coms Linux & Open Source Center at for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis. Be sure to add our Linux news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page:  
Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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