Faced with a formidable legal challenge in the United States, Microsoft has turned to Europe in its battle against Linux distribution maker Lindows.com. A Swedish court recently granted Microsoft an injunction barring Lindows.com from advertising its OS in Sweden, and Microsoft has warned resellers in Europe not to distribute LindowsOS, citing Lindows.com's debatable infringement of Microsoft's Windows trademark. Meanwhile, in the United States, a court will determine in March 2004 whether that infringement is real and, perhaps more important, whether Microsoft can own a trademark on a generic term such as Windows.
"\[This\] is another example of Microsoft attempting to eradicate all competition through any means," Lindows.com CEO Michael Robertson told a group of European resellers in Amsterdam late last week. "While they say they invite competition, behind the scenes they seem willing to take any actions--including blatant extortion--to squash competition." In a public letter, Robertson asked Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to "call off the dogs" and cease harassing Lindows.com's partners until the March 2004 court case "brings clarity" to the situation.
In the meantime, however, the City Court of Stockholm, Sweden, has ruled that Lindows.com can't market its LindowsOS product in Sweden. This decision hasn't stopped the mercurial Robertson from continuing his war of words against Microsoft or promoting the most recent version of his OS, LindowsOS 4.5. "This is blatant extortion," he said. Robertson published on the Lindows.com Web site a letter that one European reseller sent him after receiving a threat from Microsoft. "Microsoft Netherlands ... are saying that they are preparing a trial here against Lindows and they want to involve my company ... because I sell my computers with Lindows," the letter reads. "They want that I stop selling Lindows OS computers."