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Lindows asks court to nix overseas lawsuits

In the latest legal battle with Microsoft, the open-source OS maker requests that the software giant be barred from filing another trademark suit against it overseas.

Open-source software maker Lindows reported on Tuesday that it has asked a U.S. District Court to block Microsoft from filing additional trademark lawsuits against the company in foreign countries.

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Lindows filed the measure in the District Court of the state of Washington in hopes of stopping Microsoft from bringing new legal complaints overseas. The filing marks the latest move in Lindows' wide-ranging dispute with Microsoft regarding trademark rights to the Windows name.

At the base of the legal battle, first launched in 2001, is Microsoft's belief that Lindows' name violates its trademarks for the word "windows," the name of the software giant's ubiquitous operating system. San Diego-based Lindows markets a version of the open-source Linux operating system with an interface similar to Windows.

A Microsoft spokesman responded to the filing by stating that the company believes that Lindows is infringing on its Windows trademark in a number of different countries and that it will take steps to defend its holdings internationally. The representative also said Microsoft is not looking for courts to regulate its legal affairs outside of their respective jurisdictions and that it continues to ask Lindows to adopt a "distinctive name of its own" in order to limit confusion between the company and its own products.

In February, the U.S. District Court in Seattle told the jury in Microsoft's trademark case to consider whether the Windows moniker was generic before the software maker introduced Windows 1.0 in 1985. The judge in that case also postponed a March 1 trial date, itself a delayed start, to an unspecified time, pending an appeal from Microsoft.

Lindows loses one round
As Microsoft continues to wait for a final ruling in its U.S. suit against Lindows, it has embarked on an international legal campaign along the same lines. The Redmond, Wash.-based company most recently took its gripe to Canada, where it filed a trademark infringement suit in that country's Federal Court in Ottawa.

While the fight has thus far tilted in Lindows' favor, as the company continues to do business under its name, it did lose one round in Dutch courts. In January, a judge there issued a preliminary injunction, barring the company from selling or advertising any products under the Lindows name in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Courts in Finland and Sweden have issued similar injunctions.

As a result of those rulings, Lindows said it would market itself in the Benelux countries under the name "Lin---s." However, last week Lindows reported that that it received papers from Microsoft, asking the Dutch court to fine Lindows $123,000 (100,000 euros) per day for not blocking visitors to its regular Web site from those three countries.

Lindows Chief Executive Michael Robertson has previously accused Microsoft of searching for favorable courts to levy its claim in and said Tuesday that the company is delaying the U.S. case in order to saddle his business with legal fees from the overseas lawsuits.