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Lindows concedes name game to Microsoft

Lindows.com Inc. said Friday it had halted operations in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg in the latest round of its cat-and-mouse legal battle with Microsoft Corp.
/ Source: Reuters

Lindows.com Inc., a maker of low-cost computers running Linux software, Friday said it had halted operations in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg in the latest round of its cat-and-mouse legal battle with Microsoft Corp.

Lindows, based in San Diego, California, said it had withdrawn from the three countries after it received legal papers demanding that it pay a fine of up to 100,000 euros a day for failing to comply with an earlier court order.

Microsoft, which is often embroiled in legal battles with competitors, has pursued Lindows in courts around the world, alleging trademark infringement of its Windows brand name by Lindows, which offers a Linux alternative called LindowsOS. (MSNBC is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture.)

"We have completely withdrawn our products from these markets and put notices on every page of our Web site," said Lindows Chief Executive Michael Robertson, who founded the digital music Web site MP3.com. "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," he said.

In its filing, Microsoft had complained that the Lindows main Web site was flaunting a previous Dutch court injunction against using the Lindows name by referring visitors from Belgium, Luxembourg the Netherlands and Sweden to a separate home page.

Visitors to this referral page were met with a stick-figure sketch of an unfinished game of hangman. The accompanying text, which read Lin---s.com, was situated above the letters of the alphabet. Twenty-three of the 26 letters were crossed out, with only the "D," "O" and "W" remaining, leaving the reader to complete the puzzle and fill in the full word "Lindows."

Lindows said it had implemented a complete withdrawal from the Benelux market pending an appeal of the original court order.

As a result, the lin---s.com site now refers viewers to Lindows' appeal of the Dutch court ruling, instead of to a link to buy Lindows computers.

Microsoft and Lindows are scheduled to go to trial in the United States this month over efforts by Microsoft to win an injunction against Lindows over use of its trademark. Microsoft has won injunctions against Lindows in Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft has argued that Lindows chose its name in order to gain publicity from being associated with Microsoft's Windows operating system software, which runs on more than 90 percent of the world's personal computers.

Lindows.com has countered that the term "Windows" was generic and that the company could use its name indefinitely.