Windows trademark news?

Subject: Windows trademark news?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 20 Mar 2002 14:22:42 -0500

Bruce Byfield provided a link to Microsoft's case against Lindows, a company
doing a Linux implementation that runs Windows. I'm not a lawyer, but that
being said:

<<Microsoft claims that the Lindows name infringes on their Windows

Microsoft may lose this one precisely because this would mean that nobody
could ever again trademark a product name that rhymes with "Windows", even
if the product has nothing to do with computing. Moreover, they're idiots
for even trying to fight this case. Nobody would possibly confuse the two
products, and moreover, if Lindows can run Windows successfully under Linux,
they've created a whole new market niche for Microsoft to dominate with
their Office products and other Windows software. Perhaps there's some
downside to this that I'm not aware of?

<<Lindow claims that "windows" is far too generic to be copyrighted, and, so
far, trademark law seems to agree.>>

(Substitute "trademarked" for copyrighted? You can't copyright a name.) As
it happens, Lindows is probably wrong in this specific aspect; nobody else
could name a computer operating system "Windows" and survive the court
challenge. One of the primary aspects of trademark law is that it's intended
to protect a manufacturer of a product by preventing anyone from erroneously
purchasing a similarly named product (named similarly in an intent to steal
sales from the original name). Calling a new operating system "Windows"
would clearly violate this provision.

<<Microsoft would prefer that every mention of Windows in a document
indicate that the term is trademarked.>>

Which is rather interesting given that Microsoft itself does not include
either a TM or an (R) in any of its manuals after the first page that
defines ownership of the product's name. (Windows is also not trademarked in
the online help for Win 98.) If they don't follow their own advice, why
should we?

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
"User's advocate" online monthly at

"With Linux, customers end up being in the operating systems business,
managing software updates and security patches while making sure the
multitude of software packages don't conflict with each other."--Microsoft
spokesperson in a article

"And just how would that be different from Windows?"--Adam Engst, TidBITS

PC Magazine gives RoboHelp Office 2002 five stars - a perfect score!
"The ultimate developer's tool for designing help systems. A product
no professional help designer should be without." Check out RoboHelp at
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