Litigious Lindows Name a Pane

It looks like embattled Linux desktop distribution Lindows may be changing the name of its flagship product and its Web site.

Lindows CEO Michael Robertson revealed that a product name change is coming in his latest “Michael’s Minute” newsletter published Tuesday. At issue is the San Diego-based company’s brand, which Microsoft is too close in name to its own Windows software platform to be anything less than trademark infringement.

“To assure that we can do business globally, we are in the process of selecting a different name for our web presence and product name,” Robertson wrote. ” I believe it’s the only way to respond to an onslaught from such a rich company, since we need to be able to continue to grow our business.”

Robertson goes on in his letter to state, “Our US corporate name will remain Lindows Inc. since we have meaningful name recognition and product distribution.” He also notes that outside of the U.S. the company will be known under a different name, as it currently doesn’t have the right to use the name internationally.

The official new name for Lindows is expected to be announced on April 14th.

Microsoft spokesperson Stacey Drake told that the company will continue to pursue its case against the Lindows name in the U.S. or wherever it pops up again.

“We believe that the Lindows name infringes our trademark in a number of countries around the world and many courts agree given the preliminary injunctions that have been granted,” she said. “We look forward to learning what the new name is and how they plan to implement the change.”

This wouldn’t be the first time that Lindows has tried to change its name to avoid Microsoft’s litigation. In February, the company changed its name in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg to Lin- -s (pronounced Lindash). Last month, a Dutch court ruled that Lindows, even as Lindash, was in violation of an earlier court order to not infringe on the Microsoft trademark and that the average computer user might not figure out that LindowsOS wasn’t a Microsoft product.

The continuing saga of Linux Desktop vendor Inc. vs. Microsoft began two months after Lindows debuted in late 2001 by founder Michael Robertson. In Europe, Microsoft has found success in limiting the ability of Lindows to operate under that name. In the U.S however the back and forth tug of war currently has allowed Lindows to continue to use the name, pending an appeal over the terms of reference for the case, specifically whether or not, Windows should be considered a generic term.

On March 18th, a thread started by Lindows management on the company’s public discussion forum asked for suggestions for a new name. As of April 6th, there were 248 replies in the thread, including such sarcastic names as, “Shorthorn, Linhorn and LinOS, to name a few.

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