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Lindows.com Trademark Suit Goes to Jury

The United States District Court in Seattle Friday said it will let a jury decide a landmark trademark infringement case brought forward by Microsoft .

The court denied San Diego-based Lindows.com's "Motion for Summary Judgment on Genericness," which challenges the validity of Microsoft's Windows trademark. The trial is expected to start on April 7, 2003.

Although he denied the motion, Judge John C. Coughenour did say, "Lindows.com has presented a significant amount of evidence that the relevant consuming public... in the early 1980s considered 'windows' and its derivatives to constitute generic terms for graphical operating environments, the category of products that included Windows 1.0."

"While we're disappointed at the result, the 19-page order includes a long recitation of the evidence demonstrating that the term 'windowing environment' was generic when Microsoft first co-opted in late 1983. The Court rejected most of Microsoft's legal arguments and simply concluded that the issue of genericness is a fact issue to be decided by the jury. We look forward to presenting our case to the jury," Lindows CEO Michael Robertson issued in a statement.

The case began in December 2001 when Microsoft filed a trademark infringement suit and asked the court to block Lindows.com from using its company name, Lindows.com, Inc. and its product name, LindowsOS.

Two successive rulings denied Microsoft's requests for an injunction, and raised serious questions about whether the term "windows" is protectable. The summary judgment motion requested by Lindows.com asked the Court to determine whether the "windows" trademark is, in fact, legally valid, or a generic computing term and therefore not eligible for trademark protection.

A spokesman for Microsoft said the company built Windows into the brand it is today and that "Lindows should not be allowed a free ride."