MS-Lindows case Euro-bound
Microsoft can continue to pursue trademark infringement cases against Linux vendor Lindows.com in international courts, a US federal judge ruled Friday.
San Diego-based Lindows.com had asked the District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle to stop Microsoft from suing it outside the US and to strike a January ruling by a Netherlands court ordering Lindows.com to make its Web site inaccessible to people in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, the Benelux countries.
Chief District Court Judge John Coughenour on Friday denied Lindows.com’s request, stating in his ruling that there is no reason to interfere with the jurisdiction of foreign courts. However, he indicated that if a foreign court were to impede on the constitutional rights of Lindows.com he would act.
Lindows.com claims it is technically impossible to comply with the Dutch court’s order to block access to its Web site from the Benelux countries. The company had argued that it would be forced to shut down its Web site if the court did not intervene and that closing its Web site would violate its First Amendment rights.
A hearing in Amsterdam District Court on the Dutch ruling that was originally set for last week has been postponed. However, according to the US ruling, Microsoft will propose that Lindows.com use commercially available software to prevent visitors from the Benelux region to access the Lindows.com site, which would satisfy the court.
“We’re pleased with the court’s decision and believe this was a baseless effort by Lindows to avoid the jurisdiction of international courts where they are in violation of local trademark laws,” Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake said.
A Lindows.com spokeswoman declined to comment.
Microsoft sued Lindows.com in the US in December 2001, accusing the company of infringing its Windows trademark and asking the court to bar Lindows.com from using the Lindows name. The company lost two requests for an injunction in the US and the trial has been delayed.
European courts are, however, siding with Microsoft. The software vendor has won injunctions in Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands and is pursuing the case in France and Spain. It also is pursuing the case in Canada and Mexico.
“The goal of these actions is very simple, we’re only asking that Lindows change its name and compete with a name that is distinctly its own and not such an obvious infringement of our trademark,” Drake said.