Lindows CEO Says Microsoft Targets European Resellers

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Print this article Print


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Lindows.com CEO and founder Michael Robertson discusses the "lawsuit rampage" around Windows and Lindows.

Microsoft and Lindows.com Inc. are continuing to battle in the courts of Europe for the hearts and minds of resellers in what Lindows.com CEO and founder Michael Robertson, calls a "lawsuit rampage" begun by Microsoft last month when it went after Lindows on trademark grounds in Finland, France, Sweden and the Netherlands.

"I still don't know why they choose those four countries," Robertson told Ziff Davis Channel Zone in an exclusive interview. In each country, he said, "the complaints were the same ones they tried to use on us in the United States: that we were violating their Windows trademark with Lindows."

In the US, Microsoft filed a similar suit in December of 2001. But on March 15, 2002, the American court ruled that there was considerable evidence "windows" was a generic term and Microsoft did not have enough evidence to be granted a preliminary injunction. That case is now scheduled to go to court on March 1, 2004.

In the meantime, Microsoft has focused its attention on Europe. According to Robertson, "they've been threatening resellers who sell LindowsOS with law suits across Europe. Dustin, a Swedish reseller, dropped out of our reseller program because with their thin margins they felt they couldn't afford to fight. In addition, Sweden granted a Microsoft a temporary restraining order against the use of the Lindows trademark even before they even heard from us."

Robertson reports that Microsoft has sued one reseller, Hermitage Solutions, in France.

Lindows' Response.

In the Netherlands, Lindows.com launched ChoicePC as a rallying point for citizens of the France, the Netherlands and Sweden to object to Microsoft's threats of legal action against resellers offering Lindows.com products.

Robertson has also traveled to the Netherlands and Sweden to support local resellers and meet with lawyers. He expects the first trial to be in the Netherlands where "Dutch resellers have volunteered to go to court" over the trademark issue.

According to Robertson, Microsoft is deliberately trying to stop Lindows by threatening its resellers and threatening court action throughout Europe. "The world is a big place, they only need to find one judge to buy that they'll be harmed by Lindows, so they're picking and choosing jurisdictions."

Robertson dismisses Microsoft's claims saying, "windows" is a generic term for graphical user interfaces that long precedes Microsoft's use of the word. And, in any case, " Lindows goes out of the way to say we're an alternative to Windows, we're not trying to hoodwink anyone into thinking that our operating system is Microsoft Windows."

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor of eWEEK.com's Linux & Open Source Center and Ziff Davis Channel Zone. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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