A US judge has given Microsoft the go-ahead to pursue trademark infringement cases against Linux supplier Lindows.com in international courts.
Lindows.com had asked a US court to stop Microsoft from suing it outside the US and to throw out a January ruling by a Netherlands court ordering Lindows.com to make its website inaccessible to people in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
Judge John Coughenour denied Lindows.com's request, stating that there is no reason to interfere with the jurisdiction of foreign courts. However, he indicated that if a foreign court were to impede on the constitutional rights of Lindows.com he would act.
Lindows.com claims it is technically impossible to comply with the Dutch court's order to block access to its website from the Benelux countries. The company had argued that it would be forced to shut down its website if the US court did not intervene and that closing its website would violate its First Amendment rights.
A hearing in Amsterdam on the Dutch ruling, originally set for last week, has been postponed. However, according to the US ruling, Microsoft will propose that Lindows.com use commercially available software to prevent visitors from the Benelux region to access the Lindows.com site, which would satisfy the US court.
"We're pleased with the court's decision and believe this was a baseless effort by Lindows to avoid the jurisdiction of international courts where they are in violation of local trademark laws," Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake said Monday.
A Lindows.com spokeswoman did not have any comment on the ruling.
Microsoft sued Lindows.com in the US in December 2001, accusing the company of infringing its Windows trademark and asking the court to bar Lindows.com from using the Lindows name. Microsoft lost two requests for an injunction in the US and the trial has been delayed.
European courts are, however, siding with Microsoft. It has won injunctions in Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands and is pursuing the case in France and Spain. It also is pursuing the case in Canada and Mexico.
"The goal of these actions is very simple, we're only asking that Lindows change their name and compete with a name that is distinctly their own and not such an obvious infringement of our trademark," Drake said.
Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service