Microsoft loses latest round in Windows trademark battle

Upstart Linux company Lindows.com can carry on using its name after a judge refused Microsoft's request for an injunction against it

Microsoft has lost the latest round in its fight to stop a small software developer using the name 'Lindows' for its upcoming Linux-based operating system that is designed to run Windows-based programs.

Following a preliminary ruling against Microsoft in March, the software giant asked the presiding judge in the Western District Court of Washington to reconsider and issue an injunction against Lindows.com that would force it to stop using the word 'Lindows' in its advertising.

But in a new ruling handed down on Monday, Judge John C. Coughenour denied both of Microsoft's requests.

The decision marks another defeat for Microsoft in its attempt to assert ownership of the term "windows". At stake is the validity of the Windows trademark, which Microsoft was granted in 1995 after a two-year fight to reverse an earlier ruling by the US Trademarks Office that the word could not be trademarked.

Judge Coughenour said Microsoft's argument "ignored its own analysis of the defendant's evidence." Microsoft even, said the judge, through its own evidence essentially admitted that terms such as 'window manager,' 'windowing environment,' windows programs' and others refer to the genus of computer software products that have windowing capability.

"Even Microsoft's own computer dictionary includes expansive definitions of 'windowing environment' and 'windowing software' said the judge. "The evidence shows that the consuming public used the terms 'windows,' 'window' and 'windowing' to refer to a type of graphical user interface or other software program, including operating systems, in which overlapping windows are the predominant visual feature. As a result, the Court did not err in either its legal or factual analysis when it denied Microsoft's motion for a preliminary injunction."

Lindows.com chief executive welcomed the latest ruling. "Microsoft's attempt to intimidate Lindows.com through legal attacks is part of their ongoing war waged against any potential competitor," said Robertson in a statement. "This time their strategy has not only failed, but has completely backfired with their windows trademark now being put at risk and on trial.

LindowsOS is due to go on sale later this year for about $100. So far, two sneak previews have been released to so-called Lindows.com Insiders who pay a fee and sign a non-disclosure agreement that means they cannot talk or write about their software they are given. A third sneak preview is due to be released in June.

Microsoft was not immediately available for comment.


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