Appeals Court Rejects Microsoft Plea; Lindows Case Heads to Trial

Microsoft's trademark lawsuit against will continue to trial, possibly later this year, after a federal appeals court denied Microsoft's appeal request. Microsoft had questioned an earlier court decision that found the company's Windows trademark to be potentially invalid because the word windows is a common term. Microsoft had argued that the term isn't generic in the computer industry, despite its general use--dating back almost 30 years--to describe onscreen objects in various graphical systems. And because Microsoft owns a trademark on the term, the company sued for naming its Linux distribution Lindows, a name that Microsoft said might confuse consumers.
In February, US District Judge John Coughenour decided that the eventual jury in the Lindows trial would have to decide whether the term windows was a generic term before November 1985, when Microsoft sold its first version of Windows. He let Microsoft appeal that decision, however. But now the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle has elected not to hear the appeal, and the case will head back to trial. Judge Coughenour said this week that he might be able to schedule the trial for the second half of this year.
"This outright denial of Microsoft's appeal confirms that the trial will focus on how consumers and the software industry used the term 'windows' in the 1980s, before Microsoft dominated the landscape," CEO Michael Robertson said. Microsoft says it will "vigorously defend" itself in court.
Facing legal action in various other countries in which Microsoft's Windows trademark has received less scrutiny, has been forced to change the name of its Linux distribution to Linspire. But Microsoft has continued its legal assault, anyway, noting that hasn't changed its company name. Thus, Microsoft says, is still violating Microsoft's Windows trademark.

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