Judge denies Microsoft motion in Lindows case

A judge late Friday denied Microsoft's request for a preliminary injunction against startup Lindows.com , thus allowing the startup to continue selling its operating system under the name Lindows.

Lindows is a version of Linux that its maker claims can run Windows programs.

The ruling could also be the first step leading to Microsoft's loss of trademark protection for its Windows operating system's name, though U.S. Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington Judge John C. Coughenour said in his ruling that Friday's decision was only preliminary and "not a conclusive finding that the trademark is invalid."

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft had argued that the close similarity in the Lindows and Windows names would confuse customers and dilute its trademark for Windows products. Microsoft also argued that Windows would be "tarnished" since the LindowsOS would likely not run all Windows applications flawlessly upon release. San Diego-based Lindows.com has said that its operating system will run many, but not all, Windows applications. Microsoft sued Lindows in December, asking the court to bar the company from using the Lindows name and for damages.

For a preliminary injunction to be granted, a judge must see a likelihood of success at trial and irreparable harm being done to the party making the motion. Judge Coughenour did not find these conditions met, he wrote, and also turned aside the "tarnishing" argument, saying "the court views Microsoft's tarnishment argument as specious. Any software program is likely to have some defects upon release, and Microsoft has hardly been immune to these problems."

In what may be the more significant part of the ruling, the judge laid the groundwork for revoking Microsoft's trademark on Windows. He declined, however, to directly address the issue so early in the case, citing timing concerns and the large amount of evidence needed to overturn a trademark.

In his ruling, however, Coughenour noted that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) had rejected Microsoft's initial trademark filing numerous times in the early 1990s. In one of those rejections, the USPTO wrote that "the term Windows was in existence, and known, prior to adoption by the applicant. Since the term is a generic designation for the applicant's goods, then, no amount of evidence of de facto secondary meaning can render the term registerable."

The USPTO also cited multiple filings by then-Microsoft rival Borland Software Corp. for trademarks on products which included the word Windows.

However, in 1995, the USPTO reversed field and "approved registration of the Windows trademark with no analysis or explanation for its reversal," the judge wrote.

The judge also wrote that Microsoft had weakened its case by not taking action against companies that used "Win" or "Windows" in their names or the names of their products.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sam Costello

Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?