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Microsoft Broadens Lindows Legal Action

The legal troubles of desktop Linux vendor Lindows.com broadened today, with the news that Microsoft is taking action to prevent the company from using the Lindows name in Canada.

Lindows.com said it has received legal papers filed by Microsoft last week in Canada, which specifically seek to stop the company from using "Lindows," "Lindows.com," and "LindowsOS."

The suit expands Lindows' legal troubles. In Europe last month, a Dutch judge granted an injunction to Microsoft that barred Lindows from selling its products in the Netherlands under the Lindows moniker. In response, Lindows this week launched a so-called "Lindash" Web site, dropping several letters from its name to form a URL at www.lin---s.com, so that it could continue to market its software while conforming to the court order.

But in the United States, Lindows has so far successfully fended off two years of Microsoft legal actions. In 2002, a Seattle judge issued a preliminary injunction against Microsoft in a trademark feud in which the software giant's latest attempted to keep Lindows.com from using the Lindows name.

A bigger victory came two weeks ago, when a federal judge rejected Microsoft's arguments that Lindows infringed on Microsoft's "Windows" trademark. The decision scotched plans for a jury trial that had been scheduled for March 1, 2004. Instead, a U.S Court of Appeals will now rule on just how far the Windows trademark extends.

As for the new Canadian legal wrangle, court documents made available by Lindows indicated that the basis of the suit is the charge "that the defendants have infringed, and are deemed to have infringed, the exclusive rights of the plaintiff [Microsoft] in the trademark 'Windows.' " Microsoft is seeking a permanent injunction against Lindows prohibited its use of Lindows-related wording.

"This is another tactic geared to slow down desktop Linux in Canada, where Lindows.com has had great success. They're attempting to bury our success with litigation," Lindows chief executive officer Michael Robertson said in a statement.

Lindows noted that Canadian customers accounted for more than 20 percent of its business when it began selling software there at the beginning of 2002. In November, 2003, Lindows.com launched a 30,000-machine deployment of Linux-bundled desktops in Canada.