Microsoft demands daily fine for Lindows.com

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Microsoft demands daily fine for Lindows.com

Microsoft has asked a Netherlands court to fine Lindows.com €100,000 a day for allowing its website to be accessed by visitors in the Benelux countries, where it won a trademark ruling against Lindows.

Lindows complained that Microsoft's move comes after it had already withdrawn all of its products from Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, and posted notices on its websites that it would not be selling products to customers in those countries pending an appeal of the court order against it.

Representatives for Microsoft in Europe were not immediately available to comment on the alleged request.

In January a Dutch judge barred the use of the Lindows name in Benelux after Microsoft filed suit, charging that the name infringed upon its Windows trademark. Microsoft had earlier won preliminary injunctions in Finland and Sweden.

Lindows said Microsoft is now raising the stakes in its legal battle by asking a judge to fine it for allowing visitors in the Benelux countries to access its US Lindows.com site.

The company added that it would be impossible to block Benelux visitors since its website is accessed via international internet service providers, proxy servers and other methods that cloak a visitor's actual location.

While Lindows is protesting the fines, the company seems to have backed down from its original stance following Microsoft's win in the Netherlands. Shortly after the ruling, the company legally changed its name in several European countries to Lin---s (pronounced Lindash) and set up a Lin---s.com website specifically for customers in the Benelux countries and Sweden. (The company said at the time that Finnish visitors were not legally barred from buying from Lindows.com.)

However, there are now notices at the top of both the Lin---s site and Lindows.com site saying that visitors from Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are not allowed to access the sites or purchase its products pending an appeal. A hearing date for the company's appeal of the Dutch order has been set for 30 March.

However, on Friday Lindows received copies of papers filed in the Dutch court, requesting the €100,000 a day fine.

Lindows chief executive officer Michael Robertson said the move was not related to protecting Microsoft's trademark in the region, but an attempt to put Lindows out of business.

Microsoft originally sued Lindows in December 2001, claiming that the similarity between the Windows and Lindows names would confuse consumers. Lindows sells an open-source operating system called the LindowsOS, both from its website and through retail channels, bundled with low-cost PCs.

Microsoft has filed complaints against the company in the US, Canada and Europe. A US trial of the case was postponed ast month, pending an appeal of a court decision that favoured Lindows.

Scarlet Pruitt writes for IDG News Service


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