July 19, 2004 10:02 AM PDT

Microsoft pays to end Lindows suits

Microsoft will pay upstart Linux seller Lindows $20 million to settle a long-running trademark dispute, according to a regulatory document filed Monday.

In exchange for the payment, Lindows--which recently renamed most of its products "Linspire" to work around European trademark suits--will give up the Lindows name and assign related Web domains to Microsoft, according to the registration statement Lindows filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"We are pleased to resolve this litigation on terms that make business sense for all parties," Lindows CEO Michael Robertson said in a statement. "Over the next few months, Lindows will cease using the term Lindows and transition to Linspire globally as our company name and primary identifier for our operating system product."

Tom Burt, vice president and deputy general counsel for Microsoft, said in the statement that agreement meets Microsoft's goals for protecting the Windows name. "We are pleased that Lindows will now compete in the marketplace with a name distinctly its own," he said.

Microsoft sued Lindows shortly after company founder Michael Robertson came out with a version of the Linux operating system outfitted with a user interface intended to mimic the look and feel of Microsoft's dominant Windows. The software giant contended the Lindows name infringed on its Windows trademark, while Robertson claimed the trademark was invalid because "window" was a generic computing term long before Microsoft claimed it.

The U.S. trademark case has dragged on for more than two years, with the court refusing to impose an injunction on Lindows and ruling in the company's favor on several other matters.

Microsoft has been more successful expanding the case overseas, winning injunctions from several European courts and forcing Lindows to adopt the Linspire name for most of its products.

Lindows will complete the transition under the terms of the settlement, which the companies agreed to Friday, according to the SEC filing. The deal calls for the company to permanently change its corporate name and drop all "Lindows" references from its products by Sept. 14. Lindows will also drop any petitions for trademark protection for the name, along with abandoning any legal cases based on the name.

The settlement also covers Windows Media components included in early versions of the Lindows OS. Lindows agreed to drop disputed files from its software in exchange for a limited four-year, royalty-free license to "certain Windows Media software components."

The SEC filing also revealed terms for Lindows' planned initial public offering, with the company set to offer 4.4 million shares at a price $9 to $11 per share.


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Payoof but not a solution
Bill still has a basic problem. 'Windows' is not a trademark, it is
been a generic term for computer displays for far too long a
time. He can trademark 'Microsoft Windows', and probably
should if he hasn't already done that.

But unless Bill buys a court decision, 'Windows' belongs to
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Actually, you have it backwards. Microsoft properly filed for, and completed the trademark registration for the name of their operating system. Their trademark is now protected by law. Until a court case takes that away, they do own it.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
Big bad MS decides, once again, to sue a tiny competitor into an early grave and instead they wind up FUNDING them to the tune of $20million. All so MS can save their... um... trademarks.

This is thick with irony! :->
Posted by (5 comments )
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Who cares?
I guess the strength of Michael Robertson's conviction to the "Lindows" name is good to about the tune of 20 million bucks.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My only concern
My only concern is that with all this money, Linspire will position itself as a defacto standard for Linux... and it is FAR from that. I installed it the other day on my desktop. It was so Windows like (restricted use, hard to install new apps unless you use CNR which you PAY for acces to GPL software, they even renamed GPL sofftware!!!!) I used it for a few hours, but ended up needing Linux freedom back. I removed Lindows and put PCLinuxOS back on my machine.
Linux is about freedom, not restriction. Linspire is all about giving you Windows... with Linux, not giving you freedom with Linux.
Posted by (1 comment )
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