Lindows.com Seeks Relief

Lindows.com has asked a federal judge in Seattle to stop Microsoft from pursuing trademark-infringement lawsuits against the company in international courts.

The San Diego-based Linux vendor also asked the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington to declare a January ruling by a Netherlands court nonrecognizable and unenforceable. If the court does not intervene, Lindows.com would be forced to shut down its Web site, Lindows.com says in a legal brief filed Wednesday.

Other Hearing Pending

Judge John Coughenour in the Seattle court didn't rule immediately. Lindows.com hopes the judge will rule before a hearing scheduled for Tuesday in an Amsterdam court. There, Microsoft is set to argue that Lindows.com is not complying with the Dutch court's order to make the Lindows.com Web site inaccessible to people in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, the Benelux countries.

Microsoft is asking the court to fine Lindows.com $121,320 per day for failing to block access to its Web site for visitors from the three European countries, Lindows.com says. Lindows.com claims that complying with the blocking order is technically impossible.

In January a Dutch judge barred the use of the Lindows name in the Benelux countries after Microsoft filed suit, charging that the name infringed upon its Windows trademark. Lindows.com, in response to the ruling, has already recalled its products from the region and posted a notice on its Web site that it is unable to sell its products there.

Ongoing Battle

Microsoft sued Lindows.com in the United States in December 2001, accusing the company of infringing its Windows trademark and asking the court to bar Lindows.com from using the Lindows name. The software giant lost two requests for an injunction in the U.S., and the trial has been delayed.

European courts are, however, siding with Microsoft. The software vendor has won injunctions in Finland, Sweden, and the Netherlands, and is pursuing the case in France. It also is pursuing the case in Canada. Lindows.com is now trying to stop Microsoft from fighting it abroad at least until the U.S. case has been decided.

Microsoft argues that if Lindows.com has issues with rulings made by courts in other countries, it should fight the rulings in those countries, says Stacy Drake, a Microsoft spokesperson.

"This is a baseless effort by Lindows to avoid the jurisdiction of international courts where they are in violation of local trademark laws," she says. "If they don't believe they can reasonably comply with a preliminary injunction in a given country, then it is most appropriate that they raise the issue with the court that rendered the injunction."

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