updated 4/14/2004 9:03:46 PM ET 2004-04-15T01:03:46

Lindows Inc. on Wednesday changed the name of its Lindows OS operating system to Linspire, responding to a federal judge's refusal to halt Microsoft Inc.'s trademark infringement lawsuits outside the United States.

Michael Robertson, founder and chief executive, said Lindows would remain the company's name and that the moniker may be used to sell products in the United States. But he said the company's flagship Linux operating system would be renamed Linspire worldwide and that it was shutting down its Web site, www.lindows.com.

Visitors to the Lindows Web site Wednesday were automatically redirected to www.linspire.com. A Lindows logo in the upper left corner disappeared after seven seconds and was replaced by Linspire, which, according to the company, combines 'Lin' — as in Linux, with 'spire' — which means "pinnacle."

Lindows said it would post corporate information on its Web site, www.lindowsinc.com.

Microsoft sued San Diego-based Lindows in 2001 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, alleging the name infringed on its trademark for the ubiquitous Windows operating system. (MSNBC is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)

The Redmond, Wash., software giant later filed similar complaints in Europe, Canada and Mexico and won preliminary injunctions in the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland. The Dutch ruling, on Jan. 29, was the most sweeping, prohibiting the sale of Lindows products in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands and making the Lindows Web site inaccessible in those countries.

Company responds to lawsuit
After U.S. District Judge John Coughenour this month rejected Lindows request to render the Dutch ruling unenforceable and halt Microsoft lawsuits overseas, Lindows said it would change its name outside the United States and on the Internet. The privately held company appeared to go a step further Wednesday, saying the change would take effect worldwide.

Lindows made the name change global because PC makers and software distributors often ship around the world, making it difficult to adopt two names, said spokeswoman Kira Lee.

A Microsoft spokeswoman, Stacy Drake, welcomed the name change but said the company hadn't decided whether to drop its lawsuits.

"The case with Lindows has always been about the name — and only the name — but it's still too early to tell how this will affect the legal proceedings," she said. "It depends on how it will be implemented and where it will be implemented."

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