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MS legal case: Dash is 'dows, 'dows means Windows, which we own

Embracing and extending its way through the alphabet

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Court documents obtained by The Register show Microsoft's legal campaign to stamp out Lindows in Benelux becoming positively surreal. In addition to merely demanding the impossible, i.e. blocking Benelux access to the Lindows.com site, the company insists that Lindows.com should stop using names that might sound like names that might sound like names... Well, you get the picture.

According to a Tuesday court filing, "On its we site Lindows.com encourages visitors to pronouce 'Lin---s' as 'LinDash', which also bears an auditive resemblance to Windows." Well, it might in Bethnal Green, but the complaint doesn't mention that. Instead, it goes on to tell us that Lin---s is so little different from Lindows that it should be assumed that the public, "when confronted with 'Lin---s', will be reminded of 'Lindows'." And as Lindows, according to the court, infringes the Windows trademark in Benelux, then Lin---s must be wrong too, right?

We caution you not to pursue this logic too far, in case your head explodes. Should Lin---s be ruled out of court too, and should Lindows.com subsequently go for something that sounds like Lindash... No, don't go there.

But there's more. "The homepage on the web site at www.lin---s.com shows the game of hangman, with the designation 'Lin---s' next to the gallows, and under it the letters of the alphabet, of which only the letters D, O and W have not been deleted" (here, the attorneys helpfully insert an illustration of this dastardly exercise in non-compliance).

In addition, they point out that if you order or download software under the designation Lin---s you very swiftly get through to Lindows.com, get order confirmation for "LindowsOS" from Lindows.com, and "At the hearing Microsoft will show a picture of the computer screens showing the transaction."

Whew. By that time too you can bet their software will have arrived, and they'll have found out ('It's a scandal!') that it's got LindowsOS written all over it, too.

But you'd be mistaken to think that Microsoft is utterly oblivious to the fact that Lindows.com is goading it into greater and greater atrocities, and that it might just be starting to look a tad ridiculous. We think we can see just a glimmer that some kind of truth might be dawning here:

"Lindows.com has effectively used the 'Lindows' designations to advertise its operating system on the Benelux market since 2002. As such, these designations have gained a certain reputation among the public. This reputation has only increased as a result of publications in the media after the judgment, as well as because the Dutch and Belgian magazines PC Magazine supplied their 58,000 subscribers and buyers with a 'Lindows' CD-ROM in their respective March issues."

It's not a massive stretch from there to figuring out that maybe there's a lot more Lindows in Benelux than there used to be, and then starting to work out whose actions might have triggered this. They'll get there. ®

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