Emboldened by a recent court ruling in his favor, Lindows CEO Michael Robertson is calling on Microsoft to compete with his company in the marketplace, not in the courtroom. "Bill \[Gates\], I don't want your $1158," Robertson wrote in an open letter to Microsoft that he posted on Lindows' Web site yesterday, alluding to the fee a Dutch judge required Microsoft to pay Lindows. "I just want a chance to compete and grow my company. If you can think back to when you started Microsoft, sure there were big companies like IBM, but they didn't use the ruthless tactics that Microsoft now employs. How could you have built your company in that kind of environment?"
Arguably, Microsoft is very much aware of that fact and is indeed pushing back at Lindows as hard as it can legally to prevent Lindows from becoming the next Microsoft. But Microsoft's success rate in court against the questionably named Lindows has been declining of late. After European courts required Lindows to change the name of its Linux-based OS to Linspire in certain markets because Lindows sounded too much like Microsoft's trademarked Windows name, Lindows won a legal round when Microsoft complained that Lindows never changed its corporate name. Microsoft asked the judge to fine Lindows 100,000 euros a day; instead the judge fined Microsoft $1158 to cover Lindows' legal costs. "This victory is quite a turnaround," Robertson noted.
"I'm keenly aware of how Microsoft has vanquished so many competitors in the past," Robertson said. "To the portion of that success which can be attributed to healthy competition, you have my respect. But some portion has been built on dirty tactics, and I'm asking you to rethink using that strategy with desktop Linux and my company, Lindows."
Meanwhile, the fate of Microsoft's Windows trademark still hangs in the balance. A US court case, which will determine whether Microsoft's trademark is valid, will commence as early as this fall. But we've probably seen the last of Microsoft's tricky legal maneuvering against Lindows. After a US District Court judge refused to hear injunction requests similar to those Microsoft unsuccessfully sought in Europe, a Microsoft representative admitted that the company has no plans for further injunctions.