Microsoft Corp. has moved its legal fight against Lindows.com Inc. north as it began proceedings against the firm in a Canadian court.
The company has filed a suit with the Federal Court of Canada, claiming the Lindows.com name is a trademark infringement. For the last number of years, Microsoft has been battling the Linux vendor in courts in Europe and the U.S., however a spokesperson for Microsoft noted that the suit in Canada differs from those in other countries.
“We are only asking for a permanent injunction — we’re not asking for a preliminary injunction or damages,” explained Michael Eisen, executive director of language and corporate affairs for Microsoft in Mississauga, Ont.
This, he explained, means that Microsoft is asking for an order to stop Lindows.com from infringing on the company’s trademark, should the court agree that there is an issue with the trademark. In other cases, the litigation might have included a restraining order which would have forced Lindows to immediately stop its infringement, Eisen said.
“The litigation is exclusively aimed at protecting out trademark,” he added.
The case in the U.S. has not gone favourably for Microsoft. In fact, this month a U.S. district court said that if the case were to come before a jury, it would instruct the jury to first consider whether or not the term “windows” was generic prior to Microsoft’s launch of its Windows software in 1985. Microsoft has filed an appeal in this case.
However, Microsoft fared better in Europe with its suit, where Lindows.com was forced to change its name to “Lin—s” (pronounced Lindash). This program and its Web site, according to Lindows.com, was launched to make its desktop Linux available in countries where “Microsoft has blocked availability.”
Would this suit actually have any affect on Canadian enterprises? Considering its lack of penetration in the Canadian market, one analyst doesn’t think so.
“Lindows really does not have a presence in Canada. They are establishing something out in the east…but from an actual standpoint of presence and market entity, they are not here,” said Warren Shiau, research manager, software at IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto.
“Lack of official use of Linux desktop really makes this [law suit] a bit of a moot point,” Shiau noted.
Eddie Chan, reasearch analyst, mobile/personal computing technology also at IDC Canada, agreed with Shiau and said Linux on the desktop is rare.
Lindows.com, meanwhile, sees the Canadian market in a positive light. In a statement issued by the firm on Friday, the company said Canadian customers represent more than 20 per cent of Lindows.com’s “early business,” citing a 30,000-machine deployment in November 2003. The province of Nova Scotia, according to the company, has deployed LindowsOS WebStations in four Nova Scotia Regional Community Access Program (C@P) centres, allowing residents of various communities to access the Internet and use the computers for their own needs.
Lindows.com opened its Canadian offices in Yarmouth, N.S., in November.