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Lindows Attacks Microsoft's Claim On Windows Trademark

Lindows Attacks Microsoft's Claim On Windows Trademark

by , 11:00 AM EST, January 2nd, 2003

Microsoft's legal team will ring in the new year with its ongoing complaint against Linux distributor Lindows.com. Lindows has asked for a summary judgment, to be delivered in January, that would invalidate Microsoft's use of the term Windows as a trademark. That trademark is the basis for the suit from Microsoft that actually launched this particular tussle. According to a New York Times article, while Microsoft has been attempting to prevent Lindows from 'diluting' their trademark, Lindows is aiming for a much more sweeping goal.

Lindows.com is defending a broad principle, its lawyer says. "No company, no matter how powerful, no matter how much money it has spent, should be able to gain a commercial monopoly on words in the English language," said the lawyer, Daniel Harris, a partner at Clifford Chance.

Microsoft, understandably, says a different principle is at stake. According to its court filings, the company has spent $1.2 billion on marketing and promoting Windows since the first version was announced in 1983 and shipped in 1985. "Our request in this case is simply that Lindows not free-ride on the investments we have made in building Windows into one of the most recognizable brands in the world over the last 20 years," said Jon Murchinson, a spokesman for Microsoft.

Microsoft's registration of the Windows trademark was only made in 1995, after several years of continued rejection by the United States' Trademark and Patent Office. Lindows argues that the history behind this registration supports their claims, while the presiding judge has noted that the 1995 approval shows no definite explanation for why the preceding decisions were reversed.

While Lindows.com's motion for summary judgment will be decided this January, the full trial does not go ahead until April. You can read the entire article at the New York Times for a background to the suit.

The Mac Observer Spin:

This is a big, big deal. Microsoft seems likely at this point to lose its trademark on the name Windows, though this case could still be resolved in Big Redmond's favor. If that were to happen, it could open the floodgate for all manner of copycat product names, leaving Microsoft powerless to stop it. The irony of the situation is that it was Microsoft itself that started this by suing Lindows. It's funny what a little dab o' arrogance can do for you, or to you.

We shall watch with bated breath. Other than the mockery of justice that was the DoJ settlement in the antitrust trial, Microsoft has not been faring well in court of late. It will be interesting to see where the Lindows case goes.

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