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Microsoft Stops Lindows Sales in Sweden

Microsoft Stops Lindows Sales in Sweden

The dangerous trademark fight between Microsoft and Lindows.com that could ironically wind up stripping Microsoft of its rights to the Windows trademark has suddenly leapt outside the US to Sweden, where Microsoft succeeded Wednesday in getting a temporary restraining order halting the sale of the Lindows desktop operating system, Lindows said.

Lindows said Microsoft has filed for an injunction in a Stockholm city court to prohibit the use of the marks "Lindows," "Lindows.com," and "LindowsOS" in Sweden claiming trademark infringement.

Microsoft is also taking its case to courts in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Holland. Microsoft is reportedly trying to make the Lindows Web site inaccessible in the Benelux countries.

The Swedish court slapped the restraining order on Lindows without Lindows, which doesn't have an office in Europe, offering a defense or even appearing in court. If Lindows disobeys the order, it will have to pay a fine of roughly $400,000, three million Swedish krone.

Magistrate Ulrika Carlehall said Microsoft had showed "probable reasons for the alleged infringement" and that "It may reasonably be expected that Lindows will continue the infringement and diminish the value of the sole right to the marks. A delay would imply a risk for damage. On these grounds an injunction shall be issued immediately."

Lindows CEO Michael Robertson claimed, "Microsoft is using lawsuits as a battering ram to smash Linux to prevent it from reaching retail stores." He said Lindows hopes "the judge will see Microsoft's true intentions are to sustain their monopoly."

According to Robertson, "Microsoft tried this identical legal maneuver in the US attempting to block the growth of Linux with mainstream computer users. The US courts denied their request multiple times and today more than 100 retailers sell Linux desktop and laptop computers, forcing Microsoft to compete in the United States for the first time in many years."

Of course, the US case that Microsoft brought against Lindows two years ago this month protesting its choice of name has yet to be sorted out. It was supposed to go to trial on December 1 but was delayed until March 1 because of a last-minute scheduling conflict that the judge had. To defend itself against the Microsoft suit, Lindows is challenging the software giant's right to the Windows trademark.

Robertson says he will change the name of his company and its product if he losses the US case. He claims it's unnecessary for Microsoft to open new fronts in Europe and run up Lindows' legal bills without noting that US law doesn't maintain in Europe.

Lindows has started a defense fund-cum-agitprop rallying point called ChoicePC.com aimed at selling 500 so-called lifetime digital licenses to all Lindows operating systems in each country where Microsoft is trying to thwart its spread. The licenses are going for $100 each. It says it sold out in Holland and is close to selling out in Sweden but the French could apparently care less and have only bought 12 licenses.

Robertson flew to Europe the other day supposedly because Microsoft was threatening legal action against resellers, a claim Microsoft denies, although it admits sending letters to Lindows to protect its trademarks.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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Most Recent Comments
tom arnall 02/09/04 11:29:22 PM EST

the real issue is of course LINUX!!!! that curse of the owning classes. for years i went around saying that linux and the fsc would go away because 'everybody knows' you can't give your product away and stay in business. the world just doesn't work that way!' well, linux and the fsc didn't go away, and finally, because i needed stronger tools for my work as a developer, i had to move to linux. even under solaris i couldn't get what the fsc provided to developers. then finally i had to listen and look. to tell the truth, i still cannot believe what i am seeing, but, again, the fsc gives me more than anyone else for my work, and the only 'cost' to me is the work i have begun doing for the fsc simply out of a desire for the honor of making a contribution.

riffraff 12/15/03 07:13:40 AM EST

Is it just me, or does it sound like MS has been "spreading the wealth" among a few European judges?

MarkGW 12/13/03 02:17:25 PM EST

It seems you don't have to be smart to be a judge. I wouldn't want to pain all judges with that brush because I'm certain that most judges are smart. One does wonder how this one made his decision and sided with Microsoft. Over the last few decades, I have seen countless items from watches to electronics that were made from all over the world get shipped into major western markets that had a one letter difference than the brand name they were mimicking. Most of those products continue to this day unchallenged. What makes Microsoft think they can change this practice with just a simple injunction. Maybe it is because some courts can be bought off easily in foreign countries, then they run back to the U.S. Supreme Court and try to use their international examples to justify their case. The U.S. Supreme court has shown they will follow the lead of international bodies on some decisions. It may shock most Americans that their high court doesn't use the constitution to consider all cases.

David 12/12/03 06:44:49 PM EST

How ignorant can the courts be? If Lindows infringes on Windows, they why doesn't Windows infringe on X Windows?

Perhaps the judge is so dense that he doesn't even know that Windows came out AFTER many other windowing technologies were created for computers.

David