A US judge has denied Microsoft’s request for reconsideration of a ruling that, if granted, would have barred Linux vendor Lindows.com from using the name Lindows. He cited Microsoft’s own evidence as a reason for his decision.
Microsoft had submitted a request for reconsideration of John Coughenour’s first ruling, saying that the judge had “a fundamental misapprehension” of the issues and law at stake.
Coughenour ruled that Microsoft had not supplied sufficient evidence to prove that it would be hurt by Lindows’ use of its name – and also suggested that Microsoft’s grasp on the trademark for its operating system Windows could be tenuous, as the term ‘windows’ might be generic.
Responding to Microsoft’s request, Coughenour ruled that he made no mistakes of law in his original ruling and that he had properly applied the test of generic use to the term ‘windows.’ Coughenour based his ruling, in part, on information supplied by Microsoft in its original filings against Lindows. The ruling will allow Lindows to continue to use its name pending the outcome of a trial, set to begin in April 2003.
General term Press reports at the time of Microsoft’s introduction of Windows, as well as entries from Microsoft’s own computer-terms dictionary, show that ‘windows’ is a generic term, Coughenour ruled – a point that Microsoft had been arguing.
Frequent references to ‘window managers’ (a once-common term for a class of programs that control the way windows are drawn and behave on-screen) in articles submitted by Microsoft are evidence that Microsoft’s Windows is a product within a group of products. Coughenour ruled that this is one part of the test of genericness.
Coughenour further underscored his ruling by citing Microsoft’s own advertisements from the early 1980s. These describe Windows as a “window manager” or “windowing environment.” Microsoft’s own computer-terms dictionary refers to the company’s Windows operating system as a “windowing environment” and “windowing software,” the judge noted.
Microsoft’s coupling of the company’s name with its various Windows versions showed that it understood ‘windows’ to denote a class or products, not a specific one, Coughenour ruled.
Lindows, which offers a version of the Linux operating system that it says will run without modification a wide range of programs written for Windows, was originally sued by Microsoft at the end of 2001.