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I Hate Linux

Friday, July 30, 2004

The Thievery of Linux

We’ve all heard of the Microsoft vs Lindows case where Microsoft went to court because someone was making a product that sounded a lot like their own.

Later, we have the Mike Rowe Soft incident, where Microsoft went to court when a person by the Mike Rowe ran a company that phonetically was very similar to their own company name.

Today while working with one of the interns to solve a problem related to RPMs (yes... the same intern who suffered the mysterious disappearance of his /bin folder), some of the Google hits he received were on linuxquestions.org, seeing the domain name, I asked the question “I wonder if there is a windowsquestions.org?” So, he typed it in and what do we find but a redirection to back to linuxquestions.org.

It seems that windowsquestions.net is also registered, however it redirects users to linuxchat.org.

I wonder when Microsoft will attempt to enforce their trademark on the name ‘Windows’ and it’s obviously deceptive use in the above two cases.


  • Yup... sounds stolen to me.

    Microsoft Windows was released a year after The X-Window System, and of course they both stole it from the Apple menu item.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:25 PM  

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:36 PM  

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    By Blogger Brendan, at 12:41 PM  

  • > I wonder when Microsoft will attempt to enforce
    > their trademark on the name ‘Windows’ and
    > it’s obviously deceptive use in the above two cases.

    They won't because they now it can't be enforced. Windows is a common word. They settled the "obvious" Lindows case because they would lose the TM to Windows otherwise.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:24 AM  

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:40 AM  

  • If you are looking for a windows resource equivalent to LinuxQuestions.org, try Annoyances.org. It usually rocks just as much.

    -Dan Kordik

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:32 AM  

  • I'm pretty sure that clear flat thing you look through every morning to see what weather it is, is called a window too. If you have more than one they are called windows.

    How can you trademark a word so simple and "everyday". By the way, as previous poster hinted, it wasn't MS who called the borders on a computer screen a "window" first anyway.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:22 AM  

  • The problem with the Windows trademark is that it is a generic computer term. We had the W (Window) package developed by Standford, then the X Window system (because X comes after W) developed by MIT the year before Microsoft released Windows. So this would be like me trademarking "The Apple(tm) Store" and then suing someone who dared to use the name "Apple Valley Fruit Market." I don't think it would hold up in court. IANAL though I understand this to be the issue in the Lindows suit.

    Note that Microsoft settled the suit with then Lindows by paying the defendent 20 million dollars. What sort of screwed up suit is that where the plaintiff settles by paying the defendent? Aren't settlements supposed to go the other way?

    By Blogger Chris Travers, at 8:06 PM  

  • Just for the record, Mike Rowe simply had the web page as a hobby. He was hardly operating a business.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:07 PM  

  • I do fully agree that the term ‘window’ and ‘windows’ are very common terms that predate Microsoft Windows, as well as the whole concept of ‘windowing’ on a computer. However like it or not, they have been granted a trademark and when referring to it, may would say we are obligated to say something to the effect of:

    “Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries.”

    In English speaking countries it is a common word, but not in all languages, and some of the Lindows court losses occurred where ‘Windows’ was not a word in the native language apart from Microsoft Products.

    Ex: Pokémon, not an English word, means ‘Pocket Monster’ if I’m not mistaken. If I were try to sell a competing product under the name... ‘Bokémon’, I could get into a bit of trouble, as I would be accused of diluting the value of the uniqueness of their trademark.

    As to the last comment regarding Mike Rowe, I fear that you are incorrect; he was running a small web design company with the name. If it had been a simple case of him using it for his own personal webpage... I doubt Microsoft would have cared too much, but he was doing business under the name and they just could have it.

    In support of this, I direct your attention to http://www.mikerowesoft.com where you will see not the Microsoft.com homepage, but instead a page run by Mike Row, a personal vBulletin page.

    By Blogger Brendan, at 7:37 AM  

  • First, Pokemon is both non-generic and famous (qualifies for more protections). If on the other hand, I market small cameras called pokecams this might be a bigger question. And at this point, I don't know if it would be infringing. IANAL.

    If I make "Apple" brand refridgerators, I probably don't infringe upon Apple's trademark in the US.

    You are right about Lindows losses occuring in non-English-speaking parts of the world. However, the settlement occured after the court ordered Microsoft to drop the suit in other countries or drop the suit in the US.

    Anybody can be issued a trademark for anything they were first using in commerce. This doesn't necessarily mean that a trademark.

    Regarding Mike Rowe, the CNN article mentioned that he was a web designer but I have not been able to find any information that indicates that he was doing business under the name MikeRoweSoft. Currently his web site shows a blog.

    By Blogger Chris Travers, at 8:34 AM  

  • einhverfr is right, in the USA I can sell "apple" brand refrigerators all I want - just not "Apple" brand computers.

    Trademark dilution etc. were originally rulings intended to punish people marketing inferior knock-offs (like those "gucci" and "rolex" products you can buy from street people in NYC). The idea was that you were defaming a company by making people believe their products were crappier than they actually were.

    This evolved into a broader interpretation, because even if the knock-offs were of superior quality, the knock-off seller was getting the benefit of the marketing and reputation of the original. Morally, ethically, this is the point where the legal system jumped the tracks, incidentally - you notice we are no longer worried about the greater good, which is what the original legislation is designed to serve, but rather the individual limited benefit of a company that may or may not serve the rest of society.

    Things are continuing to evolve, and the categories are getting broader (once you could have sold an Apple brand calculator, but not any more).

    Eventually you will pay rent to the corporation that owns the copyright on your genes, and you will pay for clean air and water to be delivered to your home. To have everything that exists be owned is the goal of the powers that be - that's why they are constantly referring to "The Tragedy of the Commons" and that's why they love pollution so much.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:08 PM  

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