Court: Lindows Free to Sell Its OS in Benelux

The Amsterdam District Court denies Microsoft's request for an injunction to keep Lindows from selling its products in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, saying that Lindows is not breaking the terms of an earlier settlement.

Lindows fortunes in its trademark battle with Microsoft took a new turn May 27 in Europe, when the Amsterdam District Court denied Microsofts request for an injunction to keep Lindows from selling its products in the region.

The Dutch court—which also ordered Microsoft Corp. to pay 944 euros to Lindows Inc. for its legal fees—agreed with Lindows Inc. that not every use of the trade name Lindows infringes on Microsofts "windows" trademark.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read about Lindows recent U.S. win concerning the term "windows."

According to the ruling, Lindows can continue to use the name Lindows on a limited basis, so long as it accompanies it with the additional phrase that Lindows is not affiliated with "windows" in any way.

"This victory is quite a turnaround because Microsoft had asked for a daily fine of 100,000 euros to be levied against us, and instead they are the ones required to pay," Lindows CEO Michael Robertson said in a statement. "We hope Microsoft can move past these legal tactics and learn to compete in the marketplace rather than in the courtroom."

In practical terms, the ruling enables Lindows to resume sales of its operating system in the Benelux countries: Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. According to Lindows, residents can immediately order Linspire products. Benelux resellers plan to resume sales in late June.

/zimages/4/28571.gifRead more here about an Amsterdam courts previous preliminary injunction that forbid Lindows from selling its OS in the Benelux countries.

To re-energize desktop Linux in the region, Lindows is making its latest version of Linspire—the new name of its product and Web site—available for free via BitTorrent for a limited time using the coupon code "free4benelux."

Glenn Peterson, an intellectual property attorney and shareholder with the Sacramento-based law firm McDonough Holland & Allen PC, said he thinks this is a significant victory for the small San Diego, Calif.-based Linux vendor.

Peterson said he thinks the Dutch court found that "Microsoft was clearly overreaching here. Being the 800-pound gorilla in the marketplace is one thing, but bringing the gorilla to court is a bad idea. Microsoft should have caught on to that by now."

"[Microsofts] motion would probably have been labeled frivolous in any U.S. court," Peterson said. "In Amsterdam, it was politely dismissed."

Peterson said the question before the Amsterdam court was whether the injunction—precluding use of Lindows as a product trademark in the Benelux countries—also precluded using Lindows Inc. as the name of the company there. "The court answered in the negative and soundly rejected Microsofts claim," he said.

Next Page: The court outlines its reasoning for the ruling.