Microsoft cracks down on Lindows in Benelux

Netherlands

In Microsoft Corporation v Lindows.com Inc (KG 04/9 SR), the District Court of Amsterdam has ruled, in summary proceedings, that the use of the marks LINDOWS, LINDOWS.COM and LINDOWSOS infringed Microsoft's rights in its famous WINDOWS trademark.

Lindows is a US company that markets a computer operating system under the name LindowsOS and the marks LINDOWS, LINDOWS.COM and LINDOWSOS. The operating system can run under both Linux and Windows software. Microsoft brought a complaint before the Dutch courts on the grounds that Lindows's marks infringed its WINDOWS trademark for its operating system. Lindows responded that confusion was unlikely because consumers would understand that its operating system relates to a Linux open source system that is compatible with Windows.

The District Court of Amsterdam rejected Lindows's arguments. It held that, as a result of the strength of the WINDOWS mark, it was likely that a significant proportion of consumers would be confused into thinking that the Lindows operating system was a Microsoft product. In addition, the court reasoned that Lindows could have chosen another mark to identify its product and by not doing so it was unjustifiably profiting from the reputation of the WINDOWS mark. It stated that Lindows could advertise that its operating system is Windows-compatible, but must do so without using the LINDOWS, LINDOWS.COM and LINDOWSOS marks.

The court also ordered that Lindows make its website inaccessible to Benelux internet users. Accordingly, Lindows announced earlier this week that it is now operating under the name Lin---s in Benelux with a new website at 'lin---s.com'.

For a discussion of the ongoing dispute between Microsoft and Lindows, see Windows blocks distribution of Lindows's software and WINDOWS Case proceeds to trial.

Paul Steinhauser, Steinhauser Hoogenraad Advocaten, Amsterdam

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