RealTime IT News

Lindows Gets a Break in Amsterdam

A Dutch court said Lindows can keep its corporate name intact, foiling an attempt by Microsoft to get the commercial Linux vendor to stop using the name entirely.

Microsoft was ordered to pay $1,158 in court costs after the latest ruling Thursday, which found that the use of Lindows as a corporate name does not infringe on Windows under the Benelux Trademark Act.

The ruling is the latest in the desktop Linux company's long-running attempts to use a Windows-sounding corporate name. A preliminary injunction by an Amsterdam court in January went Microsoft's way, with a judge ruling LindowsOS too-closely resembled the Windows operating system trademark to casual computer users. A settlement called for the removal of Lindows from all advertising and merchandise in the region.

After briefly attempting a name change to L---s, Lindows lost an appeals court ruling in March. The next month, officials changed the name of their operating system to Linspire, though they kept the moniker "Lindows, Inc." as a corporate name, five days before a settlement agreement was signed by the two companies April 19.

Not part of the agreement, Microsoft lawyers felt the name Lindows should be removed throughout its advertising and Web sites accessible by Dutch consumers and called for the Amsterdam courts to impose a 100,000 Euros-a-day fine against Lindows until all references were removed. Lindows officials insisted the "fine print" use of Lindows, Inc., as a corporate term fell outside the scope of the trademark suit.

Apparently, the Amsterdam judge felt the same this time. The ruling states the term Lindows is infringing only when it is used to take unfair advantage of the Windows trade name in the marketplace.

The judge also took into account the fact that the Amsterdam jurisdiction is the only region in the world that imposes trademark rights for Microsoft. Trademark infringement suits, filed by the Redmond, Wash., software giant are underway in Canada, Finland, Sweden and France. A Seattle jury will hear the U.S. case sometime in the latter half of 2004, after Microsoft lost an appeal to have the term Windows considered generic as the name is known by consumers today. Lindows lawyers successfully argued it should be considered generic from the time Windows 1.0 was released in 1985.

"Awarding Microsoft's claim would have the factual consequence that Lindows would need to adapt its trade name also outside the Benelux, which, under the present circumstances, it is not obliged to do," the ruling stated.

Microsoft officials were not available for comment at press time.