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Privacy Your Rights Online Email Lists Collected For MS Suit 713

Over at the LindowsOS website is a message from company chief Michael Robertson, who advises readers that, in the course of discovery for the ongoing lawsuit instigated by Microsoft against, the company was "compelled to disclose your email address to Microsoft." The email addresses aren't just those who have submitted product names with a connection to "Windows", but rather "everyone who had submitted their address asking to be signed up for the mailing list since we turned on the website," according to email from Robertson. He adds: "The information which Microsoft received in the list was name, email address and physical address. It was not just people that posted to our forum, but basically every address for every person that we had collected." (Note: If you'd like to contribute to the list of "Windows" products, it would be helpful to include more than just a product name photocopy -- e.g. a company name, URL, or photocopied manual.).Update by HeUnique: And here is Michael Robertson comment.
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  • by sabinm ( 447146 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @11:39PM (#2839947) Homepage Journal
    Next thing you know Joe_potential_Lindows_User
    will be "sending" a letter to congress praising M$'s "Right to Innovate", along with his dead cat, fish, and web server.
  • by jarodss ( 243400 ) <{mikedupuis79} {at} {}> on Monday January 14, 2002 @11:42PM (#2839964) Homepage
    NOTE FOR WA RESIDENTS: Requests for information are not offered to residents of the state of Washington.

    Why is that?
    • Perhaps the things they would like to do with your information would be in direct conflict with the state of Washington's anti-spam law? That could cost them $500 per violation, and it's hard to plead ignorance of the law when their main campus is in Washington.
      • So how do they know where I live from my email address? If I use some free account service (other than hotmail :^) how do they know?

        Perhaps a few honeypot addresses should be added to that list to see if any email comes in from anyone other than Lindows...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @12:06AM (#2840102)
      because the trial court is likely in WA. IANAL but this is just discovery phase, the material is supposed to be used in a trial. Probably as a proffer to prove one of the requirements of trademark infringement cases. M$ has to at some point in the case, prove that LindowsOS was actively marketed. Since the don't seem to have actually delivered anything and taken no money in return, this will be a major point of the trial. Pre-trial publication is not going to happen within the state. Most likely, the judge will allow a statistical summary of the email list and declare the rest to be confidential information not to be released.

      Of course, if this list does get beyond the M$ laywers computer, or placed into publice record by the judge, it could get real bad for anyone who put truthful info on the lists.

      Either way, it might be a good time to start being an Anonymous Coward.

      Using every legal, market, technology and political process for its own ends is the definition of M$ current business practices.
      • by crucini ( 98210 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @02:25AM (#2840502)
        Using every legal, market, technology and political process for its own ends is the definition of M$ current business practices.

        I disagree. Microsoft has been exceptionally reluctant to resort to law or politics. If Microsoft were more politically aware, the antitrust suit would probably not have happened. And Microsoft almost never sues for blatant ripoffs of their software with confusingingly similar names (staroffice, OpenOffice, abiword, etc.)

        If they had made the slightest effort, they could have gotten some seriously damaging legislation passed against free software. Unlike the MPAA/RIAA, Microsoft seems to have put little thought into lobbying, at least until the antitrust suit.

        Apple is much more litigious than Microsoft. They are constantly suing anyone who sells a product that looks or sounds like one of their products. They even gleefully attack free software such as the aqua-themed desktops.

        If Microsoft vigorously sought and defended software patents, they could seriously impact Free Software. Whenever Microsoft announces a major intiative, somebody starts cloning it in the Free Software world. Microsoft has not used the patent system to lock up things like Plug-N-Play, COM and .NET.

        I don't like Microsoft's software or business practices, but I am sick of the assumption that they are lawsuit-happy and eager for more legislation. Compared to the truly scummy companies of this industry, Microsoft is not an abuser of the courts and legislature.
        • And Microsoft almost never sues for blatant ripoffs of their software with confusingingly similar names (staroffice, OpenOffice, abiword, etc.)

          Yes, they're being pilloried! They could've sued Stac for their Stacker product, lest people confuse it with Microsoft's disk compressor software and they didn't. They could've sued Blue Mountain for their electronic greeting cards, so similar to Microsoft's, but they didn't. They could've sued Lotus for 1-2-3, which includes not one but three of the very same numbers that Excel works with, but they didn't.


          You're some kind of lunatic if you think Microsoft owns definitive title to any software product with ``office'' or ``word'' in its name. The X Windowing System predates anything Microsoft ever did by a good many years, perhaps should sue Microsoft for the use of the name?

          Microsoft has not used the patent system to lock up things like Plug-N-Play, COM and .NET.

          OTOH, they've tried quite hard to lock up WMA, SMB and countless other things, including (IIRC) overlapping windows and the Start button concept. Why do you pick their few oversights and not their many, er, undersights?

    • Probably a bit of protection for respondents. Even email address is optional.
      Probably they feel that the risk to the privacy of residents of the stat of Washington is too great. It will be interesting to watch the process of discovery for what Microsoft does with this information. Remember, Microsft is the bunch bringing you .NET, Passport, etc.
  • by Xawen ( 514418 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @11:42PM (#2839966)
    What possible use could that email list be in a trademark case? Additionally, how can MS force them to hand over the addresses and even some of the messages when the Lindows privacy promise explicitly said they would do no such thing? (Yes I am aware the promise wasn't written for this purpose, just seems like it should have an effect.)
    • by AntiNorm ( 155641 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @11:49PM (#2840010)
      Additionally, how can MS force them to hand over the addresses and even some of the messages when the Lindows privacy promise explicitly said they would do no such thing?

      Legal subpoenas trump privacy agreements. Damn, Microsoft is making an ass of itself here.
      • Sure, legal subpoenas trump privacy concerns, but in the discovery process, I'm going to say that the lawyers working on Lindows behalf had their heads up their asses.

        Here's the problem. Discovery is great, and it can make you give up lots and lots of bits, but I'm curious why and how the discovery process could make them give up SO much, so fast. The Lindows people can still object. Especially on the grounds that MS is simply asking for too much. While MS might have a right ot know the number of folks signed up to the list, or perhaps their email I have a real hard time believing MS found that viable of a reason for getting everything without objection.

        Especially because this is a TM case. It has absoloutely nothing to do with the folks who subscribed to the list, their personal bits or home location. I think the folks at Lindows are either caving early, or their lawyers suck.

    • What possible use could that email list be in a trademark case?

      Well, If they could show that several people on the email list had registered because they thought Lindows was some Windows related s/w, then they'd be able to prove there was some confusion in consumers minds. However, I'd guess that most people on the list are hardcore linux nuts, so it's pretty unlikely.

      The question is then: are there some legal limitations to what they can do with this information? If not, companies would be subpoena-ing each other like crazy to get at all those juicy trade secrets ...
  • by generica1 ( 193760 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @11:44PM (#2839980) Homepage
    This is the guy who completely sold out and made it a hellhole of commercialism and a place where now, any artist who ever posted their mp3s on the site, has no way at all to remove them from their database. They have officially become 'property' of, which is basically a subsidiary of Universal at this point.

    In any case, he has a pretty bad track record when it comes to lawsuits. Expect to start getting fabulous offers (that you can't afford to refuse!) sent to your physical mailing address 'compelling' you to upgrade to future new subscription-based versions of Lindows XP. Ha.
  • Lindows, then you... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by toupsie ( 88295 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @11:49PM (#2840013) Homepage
    If all it takes for a company to sue to obtain another company's customer data, then I can imagine other competitors in other markets doing the same to crush the competition. Make up a plausible but legally flimsy claim and you too can access your competition's customer base! If your sales men can't get them to switch, find a way to sue them for not buying.

    Your privacy is no longer protected by a web site statement. Beware!

    • Your privacy is no longer protected by a web site statement. Beware!

      Privacy statements are not intended to protect your privacy. They are often marketing ploys specifically engineered to gain your trust so the company can exploit it.

      Think about it -- would you really know if the Web site was not honoring its privacy statement? Are there any laws forcing the site to follow its stated policy? If so, are those laws enforcible?

      In some cases (perhaps pertaining to certain bank or medical information) there are laws protecting you, but never assume you're protected simply because a "privacy statement" says you are.

      • by egburr ( 141740 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @01:12AM (#2840337) Homepage
        Are there any laws forcing the site to follow its stated policy?

        Truth-in-advertising types of laws, implied contracts, ...

        If so, are those laws enforcible?

        If you have deep-enough pockets, then there's a good chance they're enforcable. Otherwise they can run roughshod over you, and there's nothing you can (afford to) do about it.

  • Dear Friend,

    As a Friend, we at Microsoft hold you responsible for encroaching on the Microsoft brand with the naming of the Lindows product. Microsoft is shocked and appalled at the countless number of people that each made the executive level decision of approving this product name, and plan on holding every one of you responsible. In addition, you will be added to all of the Microsoft, MSN, and MSDN mailing lists to further convince you of the uniqueness of the Microsoft brand. We also might forward all of the blocked SPAM at to you, since we now have your email addresses.

    *******, Head of Corporate Branding
  • by Pollux ( 102520 ) <speter&tedata,net,eg> on Monday January 14, 2002 @11:50PM (#2840020) Journal
    ...and starts more MS bashing, refresh yourself on the actual post first. Granted, the article brief makes you inclined to think that this post is another chance to bash Microsoft, but something good has come out of it nevertheless.

    The "Michael's Minutes" article which is linked to has a primairy purpose of NOT bashing Microsoft or jumping to conclusions about the "seizing" of the emails, but instead ask everyone out there in the community to help them in their case. They've developed a strategy to aid their case by trying to find AS MANY products out there on the market that have some kind of "Windows"-derrived name. Here's the actual important text:

    Here's how you can help. We are composing a list of the many hundreds of products named "Windows Something" or "Something Windows" or even variations on the word windows, which are not from Microsoft. We know there are many, many products that fit this characterization and we could use your assistance to help us create this list. We are looking for hardware products, software products, products for any operating system and even operating systems themselves.

    You can help us generate this list at []in three different ways:

    1. By submitting titles which can be added to our
    list by filling out this simple form []

    2. Send in printed materials which use the term "window(s)" generically such as software boxes or complete manuals to our offices, the older the better:, Inc.
    Attn: Legal Info
    4350 La Jolla Village Drive Suite 450
    San Diego, CA 92122

    I say go for it. The goal is to catch Microsoft's real motivation for pursuing this lawsuit against Lindows: targeting competition rather than enforcing their trademark. So, rather than bash Microsoft here, take some time and actually help out the fight against them!
    • by Soko ( 17987 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @11:54PM (#2840041) Homepage
      I'm not sure, but isn't X-Windows [] trademarked?

      Big precedent there. Maybe Lindows should "compel" the kettle to see whom it's calling black...

      • Wasn't the first usage of "windows" applying to computers the xerox alto and xerox star []. For more info on the various gui "windows" enviroments and their history check here [].
      • X Window System (Score:5, Insightful)

        by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @12:16AM (#2840141)
        Strictly speaking, it's "X Window System" or something like that, and it definitely predates Microsoft Windows by many years.

        But you forget about the special place for Microsoft under the law. It can use "Window" without infringing on "X Window System," it can even use "X" (for X-box) without infringing on "X Window System" or causing the slightest amount of confusion about what "X programming" is.

        Meanwhile, it's nothing but piracy if any other company uses "Micro-", "-soft" or more than three consecutive letters out of "Windows."

        We might think this shows the emotional maturity of a 2-year-old, but we're not billionaires.
        • " definitely predates Microsoft Windows by many years."

          No, it doesn't. Check my other post [] regarding this.
          • I saw your other post... and your inability to read your own reference material. (Bill Gates may have announced Windows in 1983, but the very same page says that the first release didn't come out until late 1985. I guess you didn't read to the bottom of the page.)

            But as a practical matter, answer me this: how is it that when I bought a 386 in early 1992 or so, it came with DOS 5. I don't recall Windows even being offered for the system.

            Yet at the very same time (about a year before Windows 3.x became a standard feature on new systems), I had been developing against the X API for about three years, and I had known about it for a few years before that.

            Maybe Bill Gates announced Windows in 1983, but so what? Nothing matters until you can develop real software with it. The Lisa and the Macintosh were doing GUI in the early 80s. MIT and the Athena Project were doing GUI in the mid 80s. Microsoft Windows was not a practical development platform until Windows 3.x, around 1993 or so as I recall, and even then most major applications used their own graphics libraries until Windows 95 (1996).

            As an aside, I can run the current version of Debian software on that 386/20. I can even run the current version of xfree86 on that monochrome card. One guess on whether any version of Windows, even 3.11, could be installed on the original system 100 MB hard disk. I was sad when it died.
        • Macrosoft?!? (Score:2, Interesting)

          There is a SW company in Charlottesville, Virginia, called Macrosoft Systems. It's been around at least 4 years (maybe more), and I can't believe Gates hasn't gone down there to give them the ol' hook and ladder.
      • It is not X-Windows, It is either reffered to as just X, or The X Windowing System or The X Window System. X Window System is the only term registered as a trademark by The OpenGroup/The X Consortium. The system is also sometimes rreffered to as its major version, that is X11 or major version and revision, that is X11R6.
    • Microsoft can use the same list Lindows is compiling to go back and harass or sue the companies/authors of the programs now that it's a hot-button issue... because they can't be inconsistent in the eyes of the court. And it looks like a couple items on the list are open source projects. They'll be real easy pickin's for Microsoft lawyers.
    • Here's a shortened list of programs and authors they used as examples to show that the windows trademark is somehow not being inforced.

      WinZip WinZip Computing Inc.
      WinAmp Nullsoft
      Windows Backup Wizard
      Windows Coloring Book Kinderware Inc.
      Windows Commander Christian Ghisler
      Windows Security Officer SSS Laboratories

      Now out of these, which ones are operating systems that are supposed to mimick windows functionality? I think it's more possible to confuse something that is supposed to be windows, but not something that just runs on windows. So I don't see how doing this list going to help.
    • "Concurrent provide four windows so you can view each application while it runs. For instance, you can ..."
      Page (v) Concurrent PC DOS User's Guide
      Copyright (c) 1984 by Digital Research Inc.

      WINDOW command NUMBER=n parameter [,parameter...]
      The WINDOW command displays and changes window parameters and records the window and screen contents. ..."
      Page 8-103 Concurrent User's Guide

      Some interesting TRADEMARKS listed.
      CP/M, CP/M-86 ... dBASEII is a registered trademark of Ashton-Tate. CompuServe is a registered trademark of CompuServ, Inc., an H&R Block Company. Telenet is a registered trademark of GTE Telenet Communications Corporation . ... MultiPlan is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation. ...
  • Truth is... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cliffy2000 ( 185461 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @11:52PM (#2840034) Journal
    No matter how reviled M$ is... the term Lindows DOES infringe on the name Windows...
    Unless there's prior permission given by the company, it's illegal...
    I mean, after all, if a company came along calling itself Lisney, and had a character named Lickey Louse, there would definitely be concern. Perhaps we must think in a broader, more even-handed perspective in order to fully grasp the basic facts of the case.
    • Bullfeathers! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @12:01AM (#2840085)
      Yeah, and MS created Windows out of the blue.

      It's not like no one ever heard of X-Windows.

      It's not like anyone ever looked out of a hole in a fucking wall that had glass in it, either.

    • by cscx ( 541332 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @12:10AM (#2840127) Homepage
      "I mean, after all, if a company came along calling itself Lisney, and had a character named Lickey Louse, there would definitely be concern."

      You know, there's something about a parasite that licks people that I think just might be bad for business...

    • the term Lindows DOES infringe on the name Windows

      Unless you are the judge handling the case (which I doubt, for some reason), the name MIGHT infringe on the Windows trademark. It certainly looks like it may, but it's certainly not we who will decide.

      • Obviously the judge has the final say, but anyone who has even studied trademark law for longer than 20 minutes could tell you that Lindows is an obvious infringement on Windows.

        The only thing I would truly be curious to see is if Lindows can show enough prior usage to claim that Microsoft has not properly defended their trademark in the past, which would invalidate Microsoft's infringement claim against Lindows.
    • Licrosoft is a Lickey Louse company?
    • and had a character named Lickey Louse...

      hmm... sounds like a porno I once saw.
    • It is great to now understand that Microsoft finds no potential trademark or consumer confusion problems with names like:


      They haven't filed any lawsuits to wipe out this unauthorized trademark infringment ( that I could find on google anyway).

      Given Microsofts implied endorsment for the above naming conventions, I propose a new name for Lindows:
  • How far will these creeps go? And I quote:

    "Here's how you can help. We are composing a list of the many hundreds of products named "Windows Something" or "Something Windows" or even variations on the word windows, which are not from Microsoft. We know there are many, many products that fit this characterization and we could use your assistance to help us create this list. We are looking for hardware products, software products, products for any operating system and even operating systems themselves"

    Hardware, well only thing I can think of is that pane of glass in my wall... umm, unless he's talking about boxes of hardware that say "Designed for Microsoft Windows."

    Software. Wow. Hmm... how about anything named "XXXXX for Windows".

    My favorite part is the "even operating systems themselves." That's funny. Cause the only OS that I know of that has 'Windows' in its name is...well... Windows!

    This guy hasn't a leg to stand on. I think he likes getting himself into trouble and then making up bullshit excuses for why his interpretation of the law is right. I'm certainly not for the RIAA (H.R. can lick my nards), but it's kind of like him explaining why the MP3s on were..uh.. 'legal.' By his interpretation anyway.

    Face it, this guy knows he did wrong. Just think what would have happened if Microsoft named their Internet browser Metscape Mavigator.... But it begins with M (for Microsoft)! It's different!

    Oh, and for the curious, here is their privacy policy:

    "Contact Information: Some areas of the Site request or require contact and other information. During the registration process, we collect information such as your name, mailing address, and e-mail address. Your contact information may be used to get in touch with you when necessary with respect to transactions conducted through the Site or for other internal purposes. We do not share your contact information with any third party without your consent, except to a court or governmental agency if permitted by law, as authorized by a court of competent jurisdiction or to the limited extent described below under "Certain Third Party Transactions". "

    Looks like that just flew out the door... er, window.

    • Wow, you can quote but you can't read. Read this part again:

      except to a court or governmental agency if permitted by law, as authorized by a court of competent jurisdiction or to the limited extent described below under "Certain Third Party Transactions".

      Can you see that? Is it visible?
    • The window manager for Sun's operating system (SunOS or Solaris, depending on where you split the hair) prior to CDE was called OpenWindows. "Windows" is a pretty generic term. I doubt this is the only example.
    • You can use the XXXXXX for Windows if you comply with their terms of use of the logo. Microsoft have a whole thing called the Windows Logo Program []. If you comply, you get to put the cool Windows logo on your software box and use "for Windows" and stuff like that. All without the risk of getting sued.

      If you don't comply, but use Windows or something like it in the name of your software, then you end up where Lindows did.

  • The real problem... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SlashChick ( 544252 ) <erica @ e> on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @12:00AM (#2840076) Homepage Journal that Microsoft has a very high chance of winning this case.

    For example, take a look at the list of other product names [] that have "Windows" or something similar in them. All of these products run on Windows. They aren't a competitor to Microsoft's core operating system business; rather, they enhance that market by providing valuable third-party add-ons to Windows.

    Lindows, on the other hand, is obviously capitalizing on the popularity of Windows. To make matters worse, Lindows has a real problem becuase the name is phonetically so similar to Microsoft's product. Try to say "Lindows" out loud in a sentence. In fact, try saying the following out loud to someone else and see what they think you said:

    "Lindows is an operating system that runs on your personal computer."

    In fact, this is the worst possible outcome for Microsoft, because they HAVE to sue to protect their trademark. Suing a) creates negative publicity for Microsoft by geeks who think Microsoft is just trying to lay the smack down on a smaller competitor; and b) creates a lot of publicity of something that may be a threat to Microsoft's core business.

    I would hazard a guess that this lawsuit will generate more publicity and hype for the-soon-to-be-former-"Lindows" than the product would have on its own. Had it not been named so similarly to Windows, I doubt that many people outside of the geek community would have even paid attention to it. As it is, even though it costs $99 per user and can't run everything as well as the real Windows, it still puts egg on Microsoft's face.

    It must really stink for Microsoft to have to give tons of free publicity to a direct competitor. I'd look for Microsoft to push for a quiet settlement and get the "Lindows" pill swallowed as quickly as possible.
    • I tend to agree, except for one point - "window" is a common word, in fact, one used to describe what err.. windowing systems do.

      I don't think anyone would say that a "GNU/Linux Operating System" should not be called such because MS's is the most popular "Operating System" on the desktop? So where's that line?

      Not really trying to go one way or another, just you know, doing that devil's advocate thingy.

    • According to the law, Microsoft MUST sue in order to avoid what is known as trademark abandonment.

      'Marks also may be abandoned unintentionally, through improper use. A mark may be abandoned "unintentionally," when the trademark owner fails to use it properly, or fails to monitor its use by others.'

      So according to this definition, if MS feels that their trademark is being misused, they must sue in order to make sure it doesn't become "generic."

      More info on trademarks:
      • According to the law, Microsoft MUST sue in order to avoid what is known as trademark abandonment.

        Sure. But they're also entirely welcome to accept that "Lindows" isn't an infringement and let it go.

        The law doesn't prohibit them from being reasonable.
    • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @12:26AM (#2840183) Homepage
      ...Take a look at the list of other product names...All of these products run on Windows.
      1. That is not the list of names. That is an innocuous example list to show what they are looking for.
      2. You just demonstrated the very point Lindows is making. Microsoft is not attacking Lindows because of name similarity, they are attacking it because of the product. If Lindows ran on Windows, they would not be attacking it.
      • You just demonstrated the very point Lindows is making. Microsoft is not attacking Lindows because of name similarity, they are attacking it because of the product. If Lindows ran on Windows, they would not be attacking it.

        Yes, but they aren't Operating Systems. Lindows is a) an OS, b) an OS that's copying Windows functionality*, and c) was obviously named with the intent of infringing on their brand name.

        * In order to run Win32 software they must be copying or emulating Win32 to a large degree. This has nothing to do with copying "ideas" (Win copied Mac copied Xerox argument is irrelevant). Very few ideas are "original" anyway. My point is they have reversed engineered and are mimicking the functionality of the OS in it's entirety.
    • I think that we need to make a reality check here. I really doubt that Microsoft will get ANY bad publicity from this case, at least where it counts - with the consumer. Sure, the open source movement will hate Microsoft, but guess what? They already do.

      What they should have done was to call the program "McLindows". That way both Micro$oft and McDonalds would get involved, and cancel each other out like matter and antimatter.
    • If Lindows if phonetically (sp?) similar to Windows, why not just callit Linders or something? That takes care of the phonetics.
  • by Ieshan ( 409693 ) <ieshan&gmail,com> on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @12:00AM (#2840079) Homepage Journal
    From may disclose personal information to third parties we engage to provide services that involve data processing on our behalf. Also, if some or all of the assets of are sold to a third party, such third party will be entitled to use the personal information disclosed by users of this Web Site, but only in accordance with the terms of this Privacy Statement.

    Now, someone explain. Does Microsoft help them with data processing? No. Have any assets of been sold to a third party? No. Therefore, they're in breach of their Privacy Policy, which is clearly stated here [].

    They do cover themselves by saying this: " reserves the right to change this policy at any time by posting a new privacy policy at this location." However, there's been no change to their privacy policy. Somebody made a boo-boo, it seems, because no amount of forcing should compel to break their own privacy contract with their customer/supporter.

    Actually, reading it again, there's one place where the website COULD share your information: "We do not share your contact information with any third party without your consent, except to a court or governmental agency."

    Then again, the Microsoft branch of our government probably didn't authorize this anyhow. :)
    • We do not share your contact information with any third party without your consent, except to a court or governmental agency.

      That's it. Lindows was ordered by a court of law to surrender this information under the rules of discovery. This means that they give the information to the Court. The COURT then gives it to everyone involved in the suit. This path goes both ways - Lindows can subpoena documents from MS too.

      Due process trumps corporate policy in all cases. This shouldn't be news to anyone. See, for example, the DoJ v. Microsoft, where we were cheering for the side of due process.
  • Motivation? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by chas7926 ( 513140 )
    At first I wanted to immediately go to and sign up so that Microsoft would see how many people were interested in an alternative to their product. However, after thinking about it for a minute, perhaps they are going to argue that all the people signed up at the site actually wanted to sign up at They could then claim lost revenue and "strengthen" their case.

    Far-fetched you say? Didn't AOL win an injunction against GAIM for something similar?
  • Think about this. The second they use this information to communicate product related spam, either direct advertisements or Windows related propoganda, they violate the purpose of collecting the information.

    Any self-respecting judge or attorney would not allow the subpoena of information in a trademark dispute case to be turned into undeserved financial gain. This doesn't make sense. If Microsoft uses the information improperly, obviously they will be reprimanded for it.

    However, this doesn't mean efforts shouldn't be taken by Lindows counsel to make sure the lists are not established as part of the public record, in which case they would be free domain. Unfortunately, this is another issue altogether.
  • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @12:20AM (#2840159) Journal
    of John Landis's Coming to America [] :

    They are McDonalds, we are McDowells. They have the Golden Arches, we have the Golden Arcs. They have two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun. We also have two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions... but they're no seeds in OUR buns.

    In this case, I'd love to see the defense attorney tell the judge:

    They have Windows, we have Lindows. They have "feature-rich" products, we call them "not ready to ship" products. They have the ability to run Windows programs. We also have the ability to run Windows programs, but there is no need to choose between Windows and Linux with OUR operating system.
  • by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @12:22AM (#2840164) Homepage Journal
    Why don't the Lindows people subpoena MicroSoft's customer list? I'm sure they could find out a lot of potentially useful information from MS customers. Er, useful in the court case, I mean.

    Given MS's record with getting the courts to like them, it doesn't sound too implausible that the court would order them to comply (or drop the suit).

    It's true that MicroSoft has a good case here, but that doesn't mean they won't mess it up. They seem not to have realized that, while justice is theoretically blind, it can still you giving it the finger.
  • I think Mr. Robertson should send an email to everyone whose information is being sent to Microsoft, warning them of the disclosure.

    While he's at it, he should also provide a link to a poll on his website, asking whether any of those people had been initially confused when researching the new OS.

    I think the results would be staggeringly positive, and I suspect they would make an impression on the judge.

    (Better include a unique code with each email; wouldn't want Microsoft to stack the deck yet again...)
  • I think everyone's missing the point.
    As far as I am concerned, Lindows voluntarily handed over the marketing information(e-mail, physical address, etc.) since I have not heard of a judge ordering Lindows to handover the information or anything like that.
    Considering Michael Robertson, former founder and CEO of, is a total sellout, it isn't unlikely that he sold out on Lindows too.
    I seriously do not see why people are so sympathetic to Robertson. Lindows is definetely a closed-source program and the claim that it can run both Win32 and Linux programs has not been confirmed. Furthermore, if you want to be "Lindows Insider" and want a "sneak preview", you have to pay $99/year. Did someone say "subscription-based software"?
  • For what reason? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rossz ( 67331 )
    Forget the lawsuit entirely. It's simply not relevant to the important issue. Microsoft has no legal reason whatsoever to obtain the customer email addresses. Period.

    If Sears had a dispute with WalMart, they couldn't demand WalMart's customer list. These technophobic neanderthal judges need to be taught this.

  • Often being involved with commercial software makes users the target of aggressive behavior.

    This is why Open Source software seems so good.
  • Cheer up! You're about to receive a complimentary Passport account.


  • January 14, 2002

    I'm not sure if this helps, but from my understanding USP#3534338 basically patents the idea of multiple screens on one computer system user interface (basically the precursor to 3270) and thus multiple programs running on the same computer are accessible via different interfaces. Secondly, USP#4555775 basically patents the idea of multiple graphical virtual screens (called "windows") to represent the multiple physical screens. And of course we all know that neither MS nor Apple created the idea of a window based GUI. USP#4939507 (issued to Xerox for Virtual and emulated objects for use in the user interface of a display screen of a display processor) even refers to the screen interfaces as "windows". And thus Lindows is simply using common industry terminology to describe what it does "Linux-Windows" - running multiple applications through a graphical user interface that displays multiple bitmapped windows running on a Linux OS.
    Now, I am aware that this is a trademark issue and not a patent issue; however, trademark law does not allow me to create a creamy sandwich spread and call it "Butter" and then sue over "Butter Buds", "Land O'Lakes Butter", "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter", etc for trademark infringement and declaring their names "confusingly similar". This is the exact reason that Kraft Foods names their delightfully tasty fruit flavored gelatin Jell-O because gelatin is the common word for the product and the marketing and legal staff at Kraft knew calling it Kraft Gelatin would be a bad idea..
    The term windows is about as common as calling dirt "dirt". Hence Microsoft's choice of the word Windows for their OS is just their own short sightedness. Unfortunately, 800 pound gorillas aren't known for their intelligence just for their jumping up and down and banging their chest.
  • Lets show M$ what the /. effect really is, submit till the servers burn, no list if they have an office fire.

  • What an effective way for Microsoft to discourage participation in Open Source projects: find legal ways to insure that if you ever breathed anything online about Open Source your personal data is forfeit to them.

    Sounds like a good time to adopt a handle and start making all my contributions anonymously.

  • I'm surprised someone else hasn't submitted this yet. Do any of you remember a spoof program named "Microshaft Winblows"? It was released back in January 1998 by Parroty Interactive (who, it looks like, has been out business for quite some time). They also released a program called Pyst (as you've probably guesed, it was a Myst spoof).

    As far as I can tell "Microshaft Winblows" is the closest name to "Microsoft Windows" ever used for a non-MS piece of software. You can find an old review for the app here: pc/jan98/winblows.html [] . Check out how close the artwork is to the MS stuff (which makes sense since it was intended to be a parody)

  • I know this is going to be unpopular, and I fully expect to be modded down for speaking up for Microsoft, but I'd like to make a plea for a little objectivity here.

    A couple of questions: can you really put your hand on your heart and say that the choice of the name "Lindows" isn't a deliberate attempt to ride off Microsoft's name? Let me put that a different way: if Microsoft Windows wasn't called Windows, but something else, say "Microsoft Doors" do you really think that would still have chosen that name? Somehow, I don't think so. But you might disagree.

    Secondly, examine the issue of handing over email addresses and so on for a minute. This issue is raised in the context of trying to start a campaign in defense of Do you think this isn't an attempt to drum up sympathy? Why do you think Microsoft's attorneys (note - this isn't actually Microsoft, a subtle but important distinction) would have specifically asked for this data? Isn't it possible, or even probable, as part of the normal discovery process, that they would just ask for everything on their servers? That is, after all, the normal procedure. The reason it's called "discovery" is because they're asking for everything in an attempt to find what might be there - in other words, they don't know a priori what's on their servers, or in their filing cabinets. Why focus on this one piece of information? It could just as well be that have chosen to focus on the fact that personal details get scooped up in the normal discovery process, and publicise that as part of a campaign to get people on-side, and whip up some anti-Microsoft frenzy. Do you think that Microsoft's attorneys walked in and demanded the contact database, and nothing else? If not, why only mention the one set of data?

    Just trying to apply some healthy skepticism here...

  • by ImaLamer ( 260199 )
    2002-01-10 21:59:08 Is the XP name copyrighted already? (askslashdot,microsoft) (rejected)

    This is from a story I submitted earlier. I'm not going to type it again, but here are the links, you check it out. Look at the copyright date and remember that XP is a generic term for WindowsXP, and Microsoft often uses the term "XP" for Windows XP. It's used in commercials, and elsewhere. Does this cross the line?

    XP - an XML Parser in Java []

    Google:Searched the web for XP []. The above page is the second one down.
  • Answers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Michael ( 550978 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @02:54AM (#2840567) Homepage
    There have been some questions about why users email addresses/names/personal addresses were involved in a trademark case. Well, the first issue in many cases is jurisdiction - what court is responsible for hearing the case. Microsoft has said that we've done business in Washington and is trying to use the mailing list to prove it. has no presence in Washington and has done no business in Washington so WA is not an appropriate venue.

    As to the actual trademark issue, Microsoft calls their products "Microsoft Windows XP Professional" and we call ours "LindowsOS". There is no confusion.

    Also, Microsoft is alleging that anytime someone uses the word "windows" that means Microsoft. Take a trip to your local computer shop and see for yourself how many products are called "Windows something" on the store shelf that AREN'T endorsed by Microsoft in any way and yet aren't sued.

    Apparently, when it's convenient for them, Microsoft claims that any use of "windows" is an infringement and unleashs their 600 person legal department and Bill's dads 350 lawyer firm Preston Gates as well. But only at rare times when its a convenient measure to block competition and chase away potential funding sources.

    If you're helping extend their monopoly through use of windows term or not a perceived threat, then your use is ignored. Not a bad strategy to continue their hold on an illegally created monopoly if the courts will let you get away with it.

    -- MR

    • Re:Answers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by James Foster ( 226728 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2002 @04:20AM (#2840760)
      Another question that hasn't yet been specifically answered: Were you ORDERED by the court to provide the mailing list or was it just Microsoft asking for you to provide it?
    • Re:Answers (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ONOIML8 ( 23262 )

      I have a customer that runs a local windows and doors business. We laughed a bit about this and he mentioned that he's not aware of any major window manufacturers who have been harassed by Microsoft. So to say that Microsoft claims that any use of "windows" is an infringement doesn't wash.

      Maybe you mean that Microsoft only unleashes their dogs of war when the word is used in a computer software context?

      Whatever. So your product name has stirred up some attention and publicity. That's a good thing, until the lawyers get involved. Now things get expensive and in that kind of game any idiot knows that Gates & Co. wins, you lose. It doesn't matter who is right or wrong, he who has the most $ wins.

      If it were my product (Lindows) I would choose this time to tell Microsoft that the name of the product will be changed if they will go away. If your product is any good then your company is about making a profit on that product and it won't matter too much what the name is. But if you continue to play this game with Microsoft people are going to get the idea that you're not in this for the product but in this to fight a silly battle with Big Bad Bill.

      Which is it?

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"