Lindows.com asks judge to reign in Microsoft abroad

Lindows.com Inc. on Wednesday asked a federal judge in Seattle to stop Microsoft Corp. from pursuing trademark infringement lawsuits against the company in international courts.

The San Diego-based Linux vendor also asked the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington to declare a January ruling by a Netherlands court non-recognizable and unenforceable. If the court does not intervene, Lindows.com would be forced to shut down its Web site, it said in a legal brief.

Judge John Coughenour in the Seattle court didn't rule on Wednesday. Lindows.com hopes the judge will rule before a Tuesday hearing in an Amsterdam court where Microsoft is set to argue that Lindows.com is not complying with the Dutch court's order to make the Lindows.com Web site inaccessible to people in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg, the Benelux countries.

Microsoft is asking the court to fine Lindows.com Euro 100,000 (AUD$164,500, as of Thursday) per day for failing to block access to its Web site from to visitors from three European countries, Lindows.com said earlier this month. Lindows.com claims it is technically impossible to comply with the blocking order.

In January a Dutch judge barred the use of the Lindows name in the Benelux countries after Microsoft filed suit, charging that the name infringed upon its Windows trademark. Lindows.com in response to the ruling has already recalled its products from the region and posted a notice on its Web site that it is unable to sell its products there.

Microsoft sued Lindows.com in the U.S. 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 Redmond, Washington, company lost two requests for an injunction in the U.S. 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. It also is pursuing the case in Canada. Lindows.com is now trying to stop Microsoft from fighting it abroad at least until the U.S. case has been decided.

Microsoft argues that if Lindows.com has issues with rulings made by courts in other countries, it should fight the rulings in those countries, Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake said Thursday.

"This is a baseless effort by Lindows to avoid the jurisdiction of international courts where they are in violation of local trademark laws," Microsoft she said. "If they don't believe they can reasonably comply with a preliminary injunction in a given country then it is most appropriate that they raise the issue with the court that rendered the injunction."

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