Microsoft’s Appeal in ‘Lindows’ Case Rejected

Microsoft Corp. lost another battle in its trademark
feud with Lindows.com, maker of a Linux operating system compatible with
Windows programs, as a Seattle judge rejected the software giant’s latest
attempt to keep it from using the Lindows name.

U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour upheld his ruling from March, when
he refused Microsoft a preliminary injunction preventing San Diego-based
Lindows.com from using its name or releasing its LindowsOS product. Calling
Microsoft’s argument that Windows is not a generic name “flawed,” Coughenour
wrote, “Through its own use of the evidence, Microsoft essentially admits
that these terms [Windows and variations] refer to the genus of products
that have windowing capability.”

The judge pointed out references to “windows” in press and advertisements
before Microsoft Windows was introduced in November 1983, and generic
definitions of “windowing environment” and “windowing software” in the
Microsoft Computer Dictionary.

Michael Robertson, Lindows.com’s CEO and the founder of MP3.com,
triumphantly painted the company as standing up for the little guy. “Our
goal is to bring choice back to computers in spite of Microsoft’s bullying
tactics,” he said in a statement. “If we have to go to trial where the word
“windows” will be declared generic, we’re prepared to do so.”

Robertson just might need to do that. A jury trial on the issue is slated to
begin next April.

Microsoft officials were unavailable for comment.

Microsoft filed
a trademark-infringement case
against Lindows.com in December 2001,
saying Robertson’s company has deliberately tried to confuse customers into
believing Lindows with Windows.

Lindows.com argues that Microsoft is following form by attacking a potential
competitor. In Microsoft’s bigger legal headache, its antitrust case with
the states, lawyers for the nine states suing Microsoft moved this week to
introduce a memo from a Microsoft executive saying the company should punish
companies supporting Linux.

Robertson has become a vocal Microsoft critic, regularly posting updates of the
case under a “Michael’s
Minutes” section
of the Lindows.com site. In his latest installment,
Robertson compares Microsoft products to old sneakers that you don’t get rid
of out of laziness.

Legal experts have said Microsoft in on shaky ground with its trademark
suit, since the company willingly lets many companies use the Windows name
for their products. Lindows.com has submitted to the court a list of 351
non-Microsoft products using “windows,” or a version of it, in their names.

Lindows.com plans to ship its LindowsOS later this year, aiming to capture
customers who like the flexibility along with the capabilities of Windows
programs. The company hopes to steal market share with a $99 price tag. The
company is currently offering a
preview version
.

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