Micro$oft may lose Windows name.

Micro$oft, that big fuzzy warm software litigation company, has just lost an appeal against Lindows, a young Linux upstart.

M$ sued Lindows claiming that Lindows confused customers because it sounds too much like “Windows”.
Lindows then changed their name to Lindash, but appparently M$ thinks that still sounds too much like “Windows”.
(If they think customers will be confused between Windows and Lindash or even Lindows for that matter, it goes to show what they think about the average intelligence of their customers.)

Anyway, the case in the US seems to be going well for the Linux upstart, but M$ are making it as hard as possible for them by starting lawsuits all over the world for the same reason. (having nearly 50 billion of your money in their bank accounts is handy isn’t it.)
See: The Register for more.

Michael Robertson, the CO of Lindows has a long and not particularly friendly history with Micro$oft and that doens’t look like abating anytime soon.
In the meantime, Lindows/Lindash is now known as Linspire, which I think is a pretty good name for what is argueably the most user friendly Linux distro out there.

About the case itself, I am not that old, and I remember terms like “windowing systems” being bandied about by tech companies since about or before 1980.
In fact the X “windowing” system for Unix came from MIT in 1984.
The term was also used for apps like Geoworks, and Xeroxs’ early work on GUI systems like Star also used the term windows to describe, er, well its windows. :-)
Apple then borrowed from Xeroxs to start its way down the road to GUI heaven. In nearly all cases of early GUI development, “windows” was the word used to describe the function where a popup containing other elements or applications appeared on a seperate box on the screen.

Kind of makes it hard for Micro$oft to prove that they own the term and that there was no prior usage of it an any way that didn’t involve a hole in the side of a house.
Good luck to Lindows I say, Widows is way to generic a term to be used as a trademark anyway, it should never have been granted trademark status.

UPDATE: Lindows wins in the Netherlands

UPDATE2: Microsoft pays off Lindows to the tune of 20 million dollars over what appears to be their concern that a court might rule that the name “windows” is too generic to be a trademark. Lindows also gets a “four-year royalty free license to certain Windows media components” as part of the deal and promises not to use the Lindows name again.



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