The US District Court in Seattle has ruled in favour of Lindows.com on key legal issues in the company's dispute with Microsoft. Lindows.com will be able to keep its trademark until the final decision in the case is made.
At stake is the legal status of the trademark of the Windows operating system. Microsoft says the name Lindows infringes on its trademark, while Lindows argues that Windows is a generic term which can’t be legally trademarked.
The Court flatly rejected Microsoft's arguments that the jury should consider the meaning of the term "windows" in its current usage, ruling instead that the jury should focus on the time prior to the release of Microsoft's Windows products.
More importantly, the Court ruled that once a word is declared generic it continues to be generic, informing Microsoft that no amount of marketing around a generic word changes the generic status of the word.
"Essentially, the Court's ruling confirms that a company, no matter how much money it spends, cannot buy a word out of the English language," said Daniel Harris, Lindows.com's lead trial counsel, in a statement yesterday.
With this ruling, the trial that was scheduled on March 1, 2004 will not go forward. Instead, Microsoft will appeal the Court's ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The company still believes it has a case against Lindows.
"Microsoft understands the strength in our case, which is why they don't want to go to trial on March 1, and are again using delay tactics," said Michael Robertson, chief executive officer of Lindows.com. "Our users have helped us collect a mountain of evidence that Microsoft is afraid to confront."
The delay won’t help resellers of Lindows in the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden. Judges there have sided with Microsoft and barred the company from using the Lindows name. ®