• United States

Lindow’s first-round victory over Microsoft

Feb 16, 20042 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsLinuxMicrosoft

* Court rules in favor of Linux in Microsoft suit but battle not yet over

It was a David moment last week for upstart Linux PC maker Lindows, as a U.S. court ruled in favor of the company in a lawsuit filed by software Goliath Microsoft, which is suing Lindows because its name sounded too much like Windows.

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington said, citing an earlier case, that a generic English-language word or term cannot be subjected to trademark protection. The court said that if the case had gone to trial, the court would have instructed the jury to consider if the word “windows” was a common term before Microsoft introduced its software – a decision that would obviously go against Microsoft’s assertions. 

Microsoft sued San Diego-based Lindows in December 2001 for infringing on its Windows trademark, and asked for an injunction to bar the company from using the Linodws name.

Although a victory for Lindows, the issue is not over. The court’s ruling postpones the trial, which was scheduled to start in March, pending a challenge from a court of appeal, which Microsoft will pursue.

Still, the ruling gave Lindows something to crow about. counsel Danile Harris said in a statement “…a company, no matter how wealthy, cannot buy a word out of the English language.”

Lindows bills itself as Linux for non-techies. Its Web site promotes the Linux-based LindowsOS as an alternative to Microsoft Windows XP and Apple Macintosh systems. It sells Intel-PCs based on the Linux-based LindowsOS for around $200 to $600 at retail outlets such as Wal-Mart. The Linux PCs support apps such as StarOffice, Adobe Acrobat and the Mozilla Web Browser.