Microsoft-Lindows battle expands in Europe

Microsoft has expanded its legal battle with Lindows to Europe, putting pressure on PC makers there and on the company to stop distributing Lindows software. The dispute opens another front in Lindows' trademark spat with Microsoft, which has claimed that the company's name violates its Windows trademark in the United States. Microsoft's lawsuit over that issue is scheduled for trial next March. The latest action involves Microsoft's European trademarks for the Windows name. Lawyers representing the software company in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg (the Benelux countries) and in Sweden sent letters to Lindows and several PC manufacturers in those countries, saying the use of the Lindows name infringes on Microsoft trademarks in those countries.

The letters demand that San Diego-based Lindows and its resellers stop offering the software in those countries immediately or face unspecified "legal action." The Benelux lawyer further demands that Lindows make its Web site inaccessible to residents of the Benelux countries. Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler confirmed that the company had sent the letters. "We've taken steps in certain European territories to curtail infringing behavior on the part of Lindows," he said.

Lindows CEO Michael Robertson, in Amsterdam on Monday to begin a weeklong visit to rally European partners, said he'll continue selling Lindows in Europe, a decision he expects will result in more lawsuits. "It's a tactic to make us spend money opening up all these new legal fronts," he said. "It makes no sense to launch all these lawsuits when in three months, this case will be decided in a U.S. court, and if we lose, we'll change our name, and it's a nonissue."

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