A federal judge ruled Friday that Microsoft can continue its trademark-infringement lawsuit against Linux-distribution maker Lindows.com, which had asked the judge to prevent the software giant from suing it outside the United States. US District Judge John Coughenour denied Lindows.com's request; he said that US courts have no reason to interfere with the jurisdiction of foreign courts unless they impede a company's constitutional rights. Legal experts say this makes sense because US companies are bound by the laws of the countries in which they do business.
Although Lindows.com representatives had no immediate comment, Microsoft expressed satisfaction with the decision. "We're pleased with the court's decision and believe this was a baseless effort by Lindows.com to avoid the jurisdiction of international courts, where they are in violation of local trademark laws," a Microsoft spokesperson said yesterday. "The goal of these actions is very simple; we're only asking that Lindows.com change their name and compete with a name that is distinctly their own and not such an obvious infringement of our trademark."
Microsoft sued Lindows.com last year for trademark infringement, claiming that the name Lindows is too similar to Windows and causes confusion among customers. Lindows.com fired back, however, questioning the validity of Microsoft's trademark for Windows, a generic term that Lindows.com says shouldn't be covered by a mark. The court has twice pushed back the case for determining the validity of Microsoft's Windows trademark, most recently to the end of 2004. In the meantime, Microsoft has pursued the trademark-infringement claims overseas and in Canada and Mexico.
In January, Microsoft won a court ruling in the Netherlands that prevents Lindows.com from marketing its OS as Lindows in the Benelux countries of Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. The court also ordered that Lindows.com make its Web site unavailable in those countries, which the company says is impossible.