Judge questions Microsoft's "Windows" trademarks
by Arie Slob
Hello Windows users,
Last week (March 15), a federal judge questioned the validity of Microsoft's "Windows" trademarks.
Microsoft had filed a trademark-infringement lawsuit last December against Lindows.com, headed by Michael Robertson, the founder and former chief executive of MP3.com, alledging the monikers Robertson chose for his company and its software infringed on Windows trademarks granted to the Microsoft in 1995.
The judge threw out Microsoft's request for a preliminary injunction against Lindows.com, maker of LindowsOS, disagreeing that the company's name and product cause confusion in the market, particularly since Microsoft itself had argued that LindowsOS might not work very well and that its own spending on promoting the Windows moniker could be measured in billions of dollars.
But more interesting, the judge said there were "serious questions" about the validity of the "Windows" trademarks, awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) after it had earlier refused their registration. The judge wrote in his ruling: "Although Lindows.com certainly made a conscious decision to play with fire by choosing a product and company name that differs by only one letter from the world's leading computer software program, one could just as easily conclude that in 1983 Microsoft made an equally right decision to name it products after a term commonly used in the trade to indicate the windowing capability of a GUI".
"While Microsoft made an early entry into the market for windows-based user interfaces it is undisputed that several other companies had developed interfaces with an overlapping windows feature prior to the 1985 release of Windows 1.0," the judge also wrote. "Although, at the time, the computer industry may not have referred to a GUI's windowing capability by using the term 'windows' with the same uniformity as it does today, both the trade press and general publications often referred to this revolutionary feature of personal computers as some variant of 'window.'"
Microsoft spokesman Jon Murchinson said that the company was disappointed with the ruling and will continue to pursue its claim in order to protect the Windows trademark.
"Windows is one of the most recognizable brands in the world, and we will defend the years of hard work that went into building it into a trusted name among consumers," he said.
The ruling against Microsoft is only preliminary and doesn't have immediate legal implications.
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