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Ruling clears way for Lindows trial

A federal appeals court declined to hear an appeal from Microsoft in its trademark spat with Lindows, paving the way for a trial later this year.

Linux software maker Lindows said Monday that an appeals court had turned away an appeal from Microsoft in the two companies' ongoing trademark spat, setting the stage for a trial later this year.

In the case, Microsoft is alleging that the company's Lindows operating system software infringes on Microsoft's Windows trademark, while Lindows claims that Windows is a generic computing term.

Microsoft had appealed a February ruling in which a federal judge ruled that the term is a generic one if it was generic in November 1985, when Microsoft introduced Windows 1.0. Last week, an appeals court declined to hear Microsoft's motion to appeal that ruling.

"We're looking forward to getting this trial back on the fast track and presenting our piles of evidence--videos, magazines, internal Microsoft documents--which clearly show the generic use of 'windows' before Microsoft commandeered the word," Lindows CEO Michael Robertson said in a statement. "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."

Lindows said that the appeals court ruling will allow a trial in the second half of the year, with Robertson, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer all on the witness list.

Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake said the company is ready for trial.

"The court of appeals decision clearly moves up the timeline in this process, but we are confident in our case and prepared to go to trial," Drake said. "This is an important trademark principle and one we are prepared to vigorously defend in court."

The federal lawsuit is just one of several legal battles between the two software makers. Microsoft has also sued the company in Canada and in Europe.

Following a Dutch court ruling, Lindows has rebranded its product line with the name "Linspire" and changed its Web address. No date for the trial has been set.