Court delays Microsoft vs Lindows trial

For the second time this year, the trial between Microsoft and Lindows over rights to the word 'windows' has been delayed

The court case between Microsoft and desktop Linux-maker, over Microsoft's ownership of the word 'windows', has been delayed for at least another three months.

The jury trial, which was supposed to get under way earlier this year, was delayed by the judge to give more time sift through documents relating to the 1992 case between Apple and Microsoft. In that case, Microsoft successfully argued that it had not infringed on Apple's copyright because the Mac OS's windowed GUI had been used by other companies. Lindows is similarly arguing that the word 'windows' was widely used before Microsoft appeared on the scene, so it cannot be 'owned'.

This time, the US District Court in Seattle has rescheduled the trial for 1 March, 2004, because of a "scheduling conflict".

The case started in December 2001, when Microsoft sued Lindows and asked a judge to shut down the company's site. The software giant claimed Lindows was using a name that infringed its trademark on its flagship product, Windows. Microsoft contended Lindows was purposefully trying to mislead people by using a name similar to Windows.

However, later that year, US District Judge John Coughenour refused Microsoft's request to close the Lindows site, questioning whether the company even had the right to the word "windows". Microsoft asked the judge to reconsider, but after reviewing the case further, he again refused to shut down the Lindows site.

Bolstered by those rulings, Lindows asked the judge to toss out the case altogether, arguing that Microsoft's trademark is invalid because "windows" is a generic term. Instead, Coughenour said that both sides have presented substantial evidence in their favour, and a jury should decide the matter.

"The test of evaluating whether a term is generic for a class of goods is the primary significance of the term to the relevant public," Coughenour wrote.

CNET's Lisa M. Bowman contributed to this report.