Caught between the rock of generally unsympathetic European courts and the hard place of a U.S. District Court that wouldnt stop Microsoft Corp. from taking action in those courts, Lindows.com Inc. announced Wednesday that it is changing the international name of its operating-system product line from LindowsOS to Linspire. In addition, its changing its Web site from www.lindows.com to www.linspire.com. The companys corporate name, however, will stay the name.
"Last week, Lindows won in French courts when Microsoft was denied a preliminary injunction," Lindows CEO Michael Robertson said in a statement. "Despite our victories in the United States and overseas, a name change is still necessary to counter Microsofts strategy to sue us in courts around the world. Were hoping that this puts a halt on the international lawsuits.
"A Microsoft spokesperson has publicly stated, Were only asking that Lindows change their name, which is what we have done."
Lindows was forced to make the move because the costs of fighting Microsoft in numerous foreign courts were proving too heavy for the small, San Diego, Calif.-based company to bear.
Pressure intensified when Lindows was unable to get the United States to block a Dutch courts preliminary injunction against Lindows and its resellers that banned the sale of LindowsOS from the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg (the Benelux countries) on pain of a daily fine of 100,000 euros (about $123,500).
But the name change doesnt mean the legal fireworks between Microsoft and Lindows are over. Lindows.com intends to continue its case in the United States over the use of its Lindows trademark, meaning that Microsofts trademark on "windows" will continue to be examined in U.S. courts.
Lindows executives also maintain that the companys OEMs and reseller partners may continue selling LindowsOS products from their existing inventory. But within two weeks, the entire software line will carry the Linspire brand, the company said.
While some might see the move as a loss by Lindows, Dan Kusnetzky, IDC vice president for system software research, said he isnt so sure of that. "The name isnt that important. It was just a tool used for marketing to get people interested in a product. I think the company previously known as Lindows couldnt afford to fight Microsoft in every country in the world.
"But this battle helped Lindows by ensuring that many people now know both its name and operating system. The great fanfare that will accompany the name change, like when Prince changed his name to a symbol, will make sure that everyone will know the new name as well."