Lindows Complies, Complains in Ongoing Microsoft Fight

In their ongoing, worldwide tit-for-tat battle over a name, Windows maker Microsoft and Linux desktop player Lindows have been in courtrooms in a handful of nations, with a U.S. case set to begin later this month.

In the latest chapter of the ongoing saga — which Microsoft depicts as an abuse of its trademark and Lindows likens to the titanic battle between open-source software and the Windows software giant — San Diego-based Lindows is complaining that a recent filing from Microsoft is unreasonable.

For its part, Microsoft indicated in its court filing that the Redmond, Washington-based software company did not appreciate Lindows’ definition of compliance with a Dutch court order, which amounted to establishing a different site at www.lin— that featured a written game of hangman with the word “Lindows” as the answer. Microsoft, which could not be reached for comment, is asking a Dutch court to fine Lindows for allowing access to the site even after the initial ruling.

“Since visitors to our Web site come from international ISPs, proxy servers, anonymizers and other methods, it is impossible for us to comply with such a broad order to block all visitors from Benelux, and Microsoft knows this,” said Lindows chief executive officer Michael Robertson.

Pulling Out

Nevertheless, Lindows blamed Microsoft’s request for a fine of 100,000 euros (US$122,000) per day for permitting visitors from Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg to access the Lindows site for a pullout from those markets.

“We have completely withdrawn our products from these markets and put notices on every page of our Web site, yet Microsoft is still asking that the judge fine us 100,000 euros per day because non-U.S. visitors can view our U.S.-based Web site,” Robertson said.

The Lindows site for Benelux visitors, as well as the company’s U.S. site, now warns, “Sorry, pending our appeal, visitors from the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg are not permitted to access our Web site or purchase our products.”

Attacks Linked to Linux

Robertson, whose company has infuriated Microsoft not only with its name, but also with efforts such as a settlement rebate that encouraged Windows lawsuit winners to buy Lindows products, blasted Microsoft’s request as an effort to destroy Lindows.

“Microsoft’s actions demonstrate this has nothing to do with protecting their Dutch trademark or confusion in the marketplace, but is simply an attempt to put us out of business,” Robertson said.

The Lindows chief also criticized Microsoft’s repeated efforts to shut down the site — denied by U.S. courts twice — and accused Microsoft of “shopping around the world for a court willing to enter a favorable ruling.”

“Their software monopoly gives them a virtually limitless legal budget to launch these endless legal attacks, and this is another example of Microsoft’s orchestrated attempt to slow the adoption of Linux,” he said.

Antagonizing on the Desktop

Harvard Research Group vice president of Linux strategy Bill Claybrook, who said Microsoft may have more to fear from Linux vendors Red Hat and Novell-SuSE making inroads into the desktop market, told TechNewsWorld that Lindows picked a fight with Microsoft and got it.

Claybrook, who called Lindows “an alternative Microsoft doesn’t like,” indicated the company “obviously wanted to piss off Microsoft.”

“They did that intentionally,” Claybrook said of Lindows. “They’re mainly a thorn in Microsoft’s side because Microsoft wants to rule everything.”

Lindows president and chief operating officer Kevin Carmony told LinuxInsider in a recent interview that as Red Hat sells Linux for servers and Novell-SuSE specializes with enterprise, Lindows will focus squarely on Linux for the desktop. When asked about Microsoft’s next-generation Longhorn operating system, Carmony predicted Linux will have an edge by the time it is released.

“We won’t see Longhorn until 2005 at the earliest,” he told LinuxInsider. “By that time, I really believe desktop Linux will have the advantage when you take cost, stability and security into account. LindowsOS is progressing at a blistering pace, and it will be doing some amazing things by 2005.””

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