A Netherlands judge last week granted Microsoft Corp. a preliminary injunction against desktop Linux vendor Lindows.com Inc. and its resellers. The decision by the Amsterdam District Court "orders Lindows.com within eight days of service of this judgment to cease and desist from the infringement of … the WINDOWS trademark … by using the signs "Lindows", "Lindows.com" and/or "LindowsOS."
The court then specified that Lindows could not be sold; Lindows.coms resellers would have eight days to return Lindows software they had on hand to Lindows.com and to remove Lindows from any machines they might have installed on it.
Michael Robertson, CEO of San Diego-based Lindows.com, told eWEEK.com: "Were translating the full judgment now, but the essence of the judgment is that it bars us from selling LindowsOS in the Netherlands. We will appeal."
In a separate, prepared statement, Robertson said, "Its clear that Microsoft is using their army of hundreds of attorneys and billions of dollars as a battering ram to destroy any company that promotes desktop Linux. They were unsuccessful in the U.S. with this tactic, so now theyre resorting to picking countries where they will find a sympathetic court.
"Today, U.S. customers can purchase computers pre-installed with desktop Linux and are saving millions of dollars when compared with expensive, virus-prone software from Microsoft," Robertsons statement continued. "This ruling may delay the day when Dutch customers receive those same savings, but I can assure you that we will continue to battle to bring the benefit of choice to the Netherlands."
In the meantime, Lindows.com said it will abide by the terms of the ruling. Lindows.com also accuses Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft of opening multiple fronts in Europe in an attempt to drain the resources of competitors. The software giant has threatened resellers and brought legal action against Lindows.com in several countries of the European Union, including France, Sweden and Finland.
Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake told eWEEK.com, "We are pleased with the courts order. We feel this decision underscores the importance of trademarks and brands." She added, "Our concern is only about the Lindows name, not Linux per se. We only want Lindows to change its name. Many Linux distributions use different names, and Lindows can compete under a non-infringing name."
"Microsoft is pursuing Lindows because of jurisdiction issues," Drake said. "One of the fundamental rules of trademark law is that if you dont act to protect a trademark, you lose it."
In the United States, where Microsoft was unable to obtain an injunction, Microsoft takes Lindows.com to trial on March 1 in a Seattle court. Win or lose, Drake said, "The outcome of the U.S. decision doesnt necessarily impact other countries."