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MS Asking Makers of 'Windows' Software To Rename 572

An anonymous reader writes "Today WebWereld is running a story ( on Microsoft's attempts to stop other software makers from using 'Windows' in their names. Several software makers that are listed on the Lindows-list ( have received a letter from Microsoft's lawyers. Basically Microsoft asks them to stop using the word 'Windows.' Windows Commander and Windows Spy have changed name as the result. Christian Ghisler (of Windows Commander) changed the name into Total Commander and Sureshot changed the name of Windows Spy into Farsighter. Alexander Tchirkov of Windows Backup Wizard also received a letter from Microsoft, but he is not willing to change the name of his software, he tells WebWereld. 'I received a letter from attorneys Microsoft (SEED Intellectual Property Law Group) with the recommendation to change the program name into Backup Wizard for Windows(R).' Tchirkov says Windows is not a registered trademark in Russia."
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MS Asking Makers of 'Windows' Software To Rename

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  • by teetam ( 584150 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:14PM (#4780199) Homepage
    How about X Windows?
    • by Spooge Demon ( 413208 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:15PM (#4780202) Homepage
      It's either X, or the X Window System. XWindows is considered incorrect.
    • by gazbo ( 517111 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:18PM (#4780223)
      Ignoring the error pointed out by the other reply, there would be no reason that MS would want to change that name. Nobody is going to say "hey look, there's something called XWindows, let's installit on my windows PC because it might be useful".

      Windows Backup on teh other hand sounds like the MS approved backup solution for Windows. Same goes for other products; note that they don't say to remove Windows, just to make it not sound like it is a part of Windows (hence Windows Backup becomes Backup for Windows)

    • by ActiveSX ( 301342 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:21PM (#4780248) Homepage
      I assume you mean the X Window System. No S there.
    • by seschmi ( 531566 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:30PM (#4780301)
      1. It's older (in trademark law, that's not as important as in patent law, but it is an issue) 2. "Windows" is not really distinctive (less than "X" is). Actually, that's the problem Microsoft has all the time: "Windows" is a normal english word, a search in the trademark-database of the EU lists 20 trademarks containing windows. One could even say, that "X-Windows" (BTW: What does the X stand for? uniX? Xor?) is a clear sign that "windows" was a commonly used word for a graphical user interface for computers long before MS registered the trademark. This would mean, that the trademark was erroneously registered and has to be deleted. To give another example: You cannot register "car" as a trademark for automobiles, because it's already a common word.
    • by MrWa ( 144753 )
      It is X Window [], no "s", by the way...

      And what of it? When did Microsoft trademark Windows as a term by itself? Is this the extent of the trademark, or is it only when used in reference to software (any software?) or operating system? What do I call these things that pop up on my screen when I doubleclick on icon, if not windows?? I seriously hope they go to court and lose - then they will have to think up better named for their product like Intel did when it found out trademarking a number wasn't such a good idea.

    • by jemoody ( 532095 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:33PM (#4780323)
      "X Windows" is slang. The proper name is "X Window System". From the X man page:

      "The X Consortium requests that the following names be used when referring to this software:

      • X
      • X Window System
      • X Version 11
      • X Window System, Version 11
      • X11
      X Window System is a trademark of X Consortium, Inc."

      They seem pretty clear on the legal issues.

    • by helix400 ( 558178 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:37PM (#4780339) Journal
      How about X Windows?

      I think the article [] plainly answered this question when they said:

      "Microsoft heeft diverse makers van software met in de naam 'Windows' gevraagd om een andere naam te kiezen."

      Abortions for some, minature American flags for others! - Kodos

  • The future (Score:5, Funny)

    by KeatonMill ( 566621 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:16PM (#4780205)
    Pretty soon we'll have Stained Glass Wall Openings, compatible with Windows (R)
  • by webster ( 22696 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:17PM (#4780211)
    Several years ago MS tried to obtain a trademark on the word "Windows", and they were turned down. It looks like they figure they're powerful enough now that they can get the same result just by intimidation.

    Or is it that they're scared enough of Free Software that they're mounting an attack on XWindows?
  • by Freston Youseff ( 628628 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:17PM (#4780214) Homepage Journal
    MicroSoft sends cease-and-desist letters to all home construction companies; it seems that Windows (as in panes, sills, shudders) will now be referred to as "Transparent House Portals" due to registered trademark infrengement. Oh brother, give me a break.
    • ACK (Score:3, Funny)

      by Cali Thalen ( 627449 )
      Don't EVER say 'break' when you're talking about windows!

      (funny...the 2 big 'no' words when talking about windows or Windows are 'break' and 'crash'...and they both apply)

  • OMG! (Score:2, Funny)

    I guess they will soon be asking home builders to refrain from using "windows" and to use the term "hole in the wall with glass so you can see out"
  • by Cap'n Canuck ( 622106 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:19PM (#4780226)
    He Who Has The Gold, Makes The Rules
  • The problem is that the word 'Windows' can be used for those transparent panes of glass. I suggest we rename them to "Gates Holes" as in The microsoft building has HUGE Gates Holes.

    Joel "Windows" West
  • by tshak ( 173364 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:20PM (#4780239) Homepage
    ... for creating a non-unique product name. If they want to control branding, then they better make sure to label the product "Microsoft Windows", or next time they can be a bit more creative.
  • by EraseEraseMe ( 167638 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:20PM (#4780241)
    Microsoft has a point. These companies are selling their products by the customer association with "Windows", Microsoft Windows. Of course, it's rather DUMB of them to do it, as when walking through a software store, seeing a bunch of programs marketed as "Windows This" "Windows That" creates a mindset in the consumer that Windows has a lot of programs running for it. Just like we have KOffice, KCalc...or GProducts.
    • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @03:15PM (#4780809) Homepage Journal
      The point of trademarks is to protect a company name and to protect the rest of us from confusion.

      This move on M$'s part will dilute the trade marks of all the other companies involved and confuse each and every one of us. Take the "Windows Commander" example. Christian worked for years building up a name and reputation. Can you tell me what he's changing his name to without scrolling up the page? Christian just got ripped off and his new program is indistiguishable from many other utilities that do the same thing.

      Nothing new really. Do business with or have anything to do with M$ and you will be burnt.

  • Getting out of hand (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thatguywhoiam ( 524290 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:22PM (#4780251)
    This is totally crazy. As usual, MS is running amok, mostly - seemingly - because many of their top executives have nothing better to do than fuck with other people's lives.

    Okay, that was a bit troll-ish, but really... Windows? It's a very common word, Microsoft. I remember when WIndows first appeared and I saw the name/logo. I thought, Yeah, that's about right. Such glaring uncreativity from the business app company. Windows. Uh huh.

    Then it got scarier. Word. Office. Money. Microsoft's penchance for naming software after everyday items seems to have the subtext of usurping those items. Who hasn't had this conversation in a modern workplace?

    "My office is really messed up, I've got to fix it."
    "Your Office or office?"
    "MS Office or your real office?"

    Totally asinine.

    Did anything ever happen with the Lindows challenge to this practice?

    • by Jim Norton ( 453484 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @02:23PM (#4780559)
      So one day I was sitting in my home-[censored due to patent infringement], counting my [censored] when all of the sudden I read this story on Slashdot telling me that my science [censored] infringes on their intellectual property rights. Obviously Microsofts lawyers [censored] in finding new ways to annoy people.

      This story is stupid on so many levels, but I can't think of an adequate [censored] to describe it ...
  • by jazman_777 ( 44742 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:22PM (#4780254) Homepage
    I remember in the run-up to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. The Atlanta Olympic Committee (AOC) was going after people aggressively. You just about couldn't even say "Olympics" without a license. There was some old family-run Greek restaurant, called The Olympic Diner (or somesuch) and they had been around for years. Of course, they hadn't _trademarked_ their name and the AOC made them change it.
  • by wackybrit ( 321117 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:22PM (#4780255) Homepage Journal
    This reminds me of the case of MS against numerous local double-glazing companies (formerly known as 'Colorado Windows', 'Joe's Windows' and 'Windows Windows Windows').

    The outcome of that case actually resulted in a proposal to Merriam-Webster to introduce a new alternative spelling of 'window' to 'whindow'. The M-W took up the offer as they like to change any words possible from British English for superiority reasons.. so now if you look it up, you'll see 'whindow' listed there.
  • by Jacco de Leeuw ( 4646 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:23PM (#4780261) Homepage
    If only Microsoft would send their lawyers after those WinFix spammers...
  • by OrangeSpyderMan ( 589635 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:26PM (#4780280)
    These people [] have it coming! :-)
  • Bogus? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by johnos ( 109351 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:27PM (#4780288)
    AFAIK, they got turned down flat for a preliminary injunction in the Lindows case. With the judge expressing doubt that "windows" was a term that could be trademarked. So are these letters not an extra judicial effort to obtain by intimidation what they have been denied in court? If so, does it constitute contempt? Anyone have an informed opinion?
    • Re:Bogus? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mbourgon ( 186257 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:45PM (#4780383) Homepage
      What may be happening is that Microsoft is trying to prove that they should keep the name, and is trying to coerce all these companies so they can say to the judge that they're going after other companies, so (1) they are attempting to protect their name, and (2) they're not just going after Lindows.

      If trying to prove #1 is their idea, I hope the Judge realizes what a BS move this is, and that it's too late for them to do this.
  • While I hate to say it, MS may have a small chancew of winning these. I don't like the idea of "Windows" being a trademark, but these programs weren't using windows in any generic sense. They were obviously using the term to refer to MS Windows. Windows Commander gave you better control of your MS Windows. Windows Spy let you spy on MS Windows. If the programs also worked under say XWindows they could claim they were using it as a generic term, but as it stands, they were obviously referencing MS Windows, which may put them on shaky ground.
  • A little too late (Score:4, Informative)

    by FurryFeet ( 562847 ) < minus threevowels> on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:29PM (#4780298)
    If they had tried that before the Lindows case, they might have had a leg to stand on. But the judge's findings in that one do not bode well for MS. I'd say, stuff'em.
  • by tmark ( 230091 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:30PM (#4780305)
    But does anyone doubt that the software in question is playing off the Microsoft Windows brand and mark ? I'd understand the argument if the software described did things totally unrelated to MS Windows, but I bet (without actually looking up these products) from the sounds of their names that their functionalities are intimately related to MS Windows.

    As for whether or not Windows is a registered trademark in Russia or not, I have to say I'd be very, very surprised if it is not. And if it isn't , then someone in Russia ought to go and register that trademark NOW. In fact, it makes me wonder why the Russian programmer in question wouldn't register the trademark if only to protect HIS mark.
    • As for whether or not Windows is a registered trademark in Russia or not, I have to say I'd be very, very surprised if it is not.

      It's not even a trademark in the US.
      • by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @02:13PM (#4780520)
        It's not even a trademark in the US.

        Really? You're sure about that, are you?

        Word Mark WINDOWS
        Goods and Services IC 009. US 038. G & S: computer programs and manuals sold as a unit; namely, graphical operating environment programs for microcomputers. FIRST USE: 19831018. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19831018
        Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
        Serial Number 74090419
        Filing Date August 20, 1990
        Published for Opposition June 21, 1994
        Registration Number 1872264
        Registration Date January 10, 1995
        Owner (REGISTRANT) Microsoft Corporation CORPORATION DELAWARE One Microsoft Way Redmond WASHINGTON 980526399
        Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
        Attorney of Record Richard W. Seed
        Type of Mark TRADEMARK
        Register PRINCIPAL-2(F)
        Affidavit Text SECT 8 (6-YR).
        Live/Dead Indicator LIVE
        • From what I understand of Trademark law there are a few rules which have to be followed in the United States:

          1. Not in use prior to the origination of trademarks as a general term. (ie: "Windows" is a general term, "Microsoft Windows" is not. Microsoft's big problem is that they trademarked just "Windows". (If I remember correctly.) Therein lies the rub.) This is where the "Olympics" problem also occurs. Since the Greeks coined the phrase "Olympics" over 2,000 years ago - no one can claim to own the word "Olympics" and would be laughed out of court for trying to claim it. (However, again - you first have to go to court and be willing to fight for it in order to have it thrown out. And that is the catch. If you aren't willing to stand up to a bunch of bullies - then you get what you deserve. And that is why things are the way they are.)

          2. Trademarks can be made to cover entire areas or everything dependent upon how the wording is done on the application. (See Apple Computer Inc.'s [] having to deal with the company who created the Macintosh Stereo Systems. Or look at the Beatles trademarking the "Apple" logo [] for their records. [Notice also that the Beatles' Apple logo [] isn't just the word but is also a pictograph. So that has to be taken into consideration as well.)

          3. Trademarks have to be defended or they return to the general public. This is why you see so many threats of lawsuits. McDonald's is very aggressive in their pursuit of anyone who might have a name even remotely sounding [] like theirs.

          4. Trademarks also can not become general terms. This is called "dilution of a trademark." This is also why people can no longer refer to making a copy of something on a copying machine as "Xerox'ing something []" or "making a Xerox". Why colas sold in restaurants have to be distinguished by trademark name and not just as "cokes []", and why you use a tissue and not a "kleenex []". All of these companies had to fight to keep their trademarks from becoming so diluted in normal speech that they no longer were considered trademarks.

          (Offtopic: I have a new idea for submitting stuff to SlashDot - integrated spell checker! Put it next to "Submit" and "Preview". I know I could have used one writing this up. :-) )
  • Wonder if you can even use the word Windows *anywhere* in your ad campaign...

    Sure they have to defend a trademark or loose it, but this is a bit silly.
  • Now would M$ add windex to the list?

    I mean it is a windows product ;-)

    Not windex [], windex []!
  • Grow up? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doomrat ( 615771 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:31PM (#4780311) Homepage
    Come on Slashdot editors, the whole reporting-on-M$'s-every-move thing is getting REALLY old now. Do you realise that the people who are capable of thinking for theirselves are generally rolling their eyes at almost every headline posted? Why don't you try being a little less biased, and maybe we won't think you are all whining geeks. Sure, nothing wrong with being a geek, as long as you embody some of the positive qualities rather than all of the negative ones.

    Moderators: Mod me down all you like, but perhaps a better use of your time would be to reply with constructive criticism.
    • Re:Grow up? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MarvinMouse ( 323641 )
      Normally I don't rant, but I feel it is necessary after reading one after another of these useless postings...

      Slashdot is not a democratic system, you cannot vote which stories will get posted. It is a system run by the editors and they have full license to place whatever they want on the front page. Now, I understand you don't like Microsoft stories obviously, but some people do, and if you crawl out of your hole and look around you may notice these other people, and then realize why the slashdot editors post these stories.

      If you want something else, go somewhere else, or block it using your front page settings for Slashdot, but don't waste posting space and time just to complain that someone isn't putting the stories you want all the time.

      Right now, I think the grow up you put in your subject line is appropriate for you. Grow up! and realize that the world is not always how you want it. A part of slashdot and something that the editors like is the the "whole reporting-on-M$'s-every-move thing" If you don't like it, then block it, read other sites, or just ignore it. Hell, e-mail the editors, their e-mails are at the tops of the page. But complaining about it in the postings for that story is off-topic, annoying, and pointless.


      I am sorry if I sound harsh, I am just tired of reading these postings over and over again.
  • Vendors have been calling things 'XXX for Windows' for years. M$ liked it to start with because it enhanced the visibility of their operating system.

    Then they came to not bother, everyone knew about M$ Windows.

    Now they are trying to grab control of a generic word so that they can get at 'Lindows'. Sorry: precedence has been set for such a long time.

    The above is the rational view. To know what the legal view is, first find a dice ...
  • Make your own name (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DeadSea ( 69598 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:34PM (#4780327) Homepage Journal
    Even if Microsoft doesn't own the word Windows, I would still advise software authors to choose creative names. Product names do not have to be descriptive, they are often better wacky. Yahoo does just fine without the word "directory" in its name. Same your Ebay without "auctions".

    If your product does something useful, people will associate any name you choose with the functionality of your product. Just because your product runs on Windows or is written in Java, you should not feel that you should include the word in the title. Just because your software is an FTP client, you don't have to name it JoeFTP.

    Naming your product similarly to another project piggy backs on their efforts. I would rather have my stuff stand on its own merits. Naming after functionality, platform, or language can later be limiting if you ever want to expand your functionality or port it to other platforms.

  • by DahGhostfacedFiddlah ( 470393 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:36PM (#4780336)
    Your Rights Online: But what about the glassblowers?
    Posted by Hemos [] on Friday, November 29, @7:32PM
    from the 500-pound-gorilla-named-Steve dept.
    Clevername [mailto] writes "It's not like we didn't see it coming. Micro$oft has apparently decided once again that all our Windows are belong to them. This time they're attempting to stop the use of the word Windows [] in all software packages but their own. This has affected such software packages as Total Commander (nee Windows Commander) and Farsighter (nee Windows Spy). When will the madness end? Another reader pointed us to this list of potential targets []. Will I have to start getting Microsoft's prmission to rennovate my house?

    ( Read More... [] | 4 [] of 330 [] comments | Your Rights Online []

  • Translation (Score:4, Informative)

    by hankwang ( 413283 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:40PM (#4780358) Homepage
    Microsoft: 'Windows' in software name is not allowed.

    Friday, November 29, 2002 - Microsoft has asked manufacturers of software with the name 'Windows' to choose a different name.

    by Maarten Reijnders

    This appears after a quick tour along the manufacturers of software listed on the site. The makers of 'Windows Spy' and 'Windows Backup Wizard' received a letter from Microsoft's lawyers, as they confirmed to WebWereld.

    Earlier, the maker of 'Windows Commander' had changed the name of its program into 'Total Commander'. He did so after having received a letter from Microsoft's lawyers.

    The Russian maker of 'Windows Backup Wizard' decided not to conform to the request he received from Microsoft in July. Alexander Tchirkov of Windows Backup Wizard: "I received a letter of Microsoft's lawyers with the recommendation to change the name of my program into 'Backup Wizard for Windows(R)'."

    "I am not planning to change the name of my program. But Christian Ghisler (maker of Windows Commander, MR) had already been forced to change the name of his software, so anything is possible", says Tchirkov who points out that Windows isn't a registered trademark in Russia.

    Software manufacturer Sureshot, however, did decide to change the name of the program 'Windows Spy' into 'Farsighter'. "Microsoft appears to possess the term 'Windows'", Jon, of Sureshot, sighs.

    Windows Commander, Windows Backup Wizard, and Windows Spy are mentioned on a list composed by the manufacturers of the Linux-based operating system Lindows. The company plans to use this list in a juridical procedure that Microsoft has started against Lindows.

    Microsoft believes that 'Lindows' is too similar to 'Windows' and demands therefore that Lindows stops using that name. In March, the judge ruled that Lindows is allowed to use the name until the final decision of the court.

    Since the list at was published, it appears that not only the names of Windows Commander and Windows Spy have been changed, but also the ones of Windows Network Booster and Windows Personalizer 2000. At least, the programs are no longer available at their original name at

  • by EMH_Mark3 ( 305983 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:40PM (#4780362)

    "Tchirkov says Windows is not a registered trademark in Russia."

    Heh.. I hope he doesn't plan to ever come to the US :)

  • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:41PM (#4780365)
    As I recall way back when Apple sued Microsoft over the look and feel of its operating system, Microsoft argues that Windows was a generic term. Now they want to reverse their position. Mayb we should reveit the look and feel issue.

    Besides lots of thigs run on windows besides software. Windex runs on windows, bird shit runs on windows.

  • What's the fuss? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JMZero ( 449047 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:42PM (#4780369) Homepage
    The name Windows Backup certainly gives the impression that it might be produced or sanctioned by MS (as THE Windows Backup Wizard or some such) even though MS isn't in the habit of calling things "Windows Doongle Dongle".

    First off, this isn't a generic use of the word "Windows" and saying so is really stupid. Similarly, I surely hope I wouldn't be able to call my new product "Sun Network Management Administrator" (even though sun is a dictionary word). I would expect to be able to sell "Sun Dishwasher Liquid" (although that would be a poor name for a network management system) or to make a movie called "Solaris".

    They may not be able to win, as (as other's have pointed out) I don't know that they have a trademark on the word "Windows". Either way, in the "spirit of the law", this is a reasonable request. The suggested alternate name is a perfectly reasonable compromise (it's clearer, too), and I'd suggest that they don't want to switch to it specifically because they want to continue getting goodwill off of their current name and/or get free press.

    And don't bother telling me MS is evil - in this case that would be a real strong signal of a dull, well-rutted mind.

    • Re:What's the fuss? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Reziac ( 43301 )
      As a somewhat bizarre example.. the word "telesis". It's a perfectly good Greek word that could be roughly translated as "foresight". It's a registered trademark for all sorts of different things worldwide, but the one most people think of hereabouts is the late Pacific Bell.

      I use interesting Greek words to name one branch of my Labrador bloodline, hence I hung one with "Longplain Telesis". It took about 6 extra months to process, probably because it tripped a trademark flag and had to be researched.

    • by stratjakt ( 596332 )
      And you can see by MSFTs actions they are being reasonable.

      They don't have a problem with:

      Backup Wizard for Windows(R)

      But they do have a problem with:

      Windows Backup Wizard.

      And, parent already stated the reasons why. The second is misleading, and connotes some sort of MSFT sanction. The first plainly denotes a 3rd party product designed for Windows.

      I might just write a military strategy game and call it "The Linux Colonel".
    • by 11slashdot ( 596612 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @02:33PM (#4780608)
      If I have software called Linux Commander, do you really think
      its part of the kernel?

      And your Sun comparison is way off. The direct analogy would be

      Solaris modifier

      Or, it would have been analagous if the M$ targets were calling their software

      Microsoft modifier

      In other words, to refute your first sentence, absolutely nobody
      I know would think that "Windows Backup", presented in
      an appropriate manner, was produced or sanctioned by M$

      Said another way, don't you think the intention of the targets
      is a relevant question in this case? - are they trying to give
      the impression of being a Microsoft product?
    • by nrosier ( 99582 )
      Similarly, I surely hope I wouldn't be able to call my new product "Sun Network Management Administrator" (even though sun is a dictionary word). I would expect to be able to sell "Sun Dishwasher Liquid" (although that would be a poor name for a network management system) or to make a movie called "Solaris".

      There would be a difference: Sun stands for Stanford University Network and is the name of the company. Thus calling it Sun Network Management Adminstrator would be using another company's name.
      They aren't calling it Microsoft or MS but a generic word: Windows. Calling it Solaris blablabla would be OK. Calling it Sun Solaris blablabla again would be confusing.
      Just run winver and you'll see it's Microsoft (R) Windows. Every application I've seen says Microsoft blablabla.
      MS just doesn't have a case
    • by phillymjs ( 234426 )
      ...even though MS isn't in the habit of calling things "Windows Doongle Dongle".

      What are you talking about? They use it all the time! "Windows Update," "Windows Catalog," "Windows Media Player," "Windows Messenger," "Windows Movie Maker," and "Windows Explorer" are all sitting in the Start menu of my XP box.

      Having said that, I think these third-party software makers should tell Microsoft to go fsck themselves. Microsoft chose their product names with the specific intent of co-opting the generic terms-- they reaped the benefit of that almost from the day they started doing it, and now they're going to cry about it when the pendulum swings the other way? Forget it! I know that all the targets will knuckle under because they can't afford the lawyers to fight this bullying, but if this ever made it into a courtroom, I think the little guys would prevail.

  • by MacAndrew ( 463832 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:45PM (#4780380) Homepage
    Window [], huh?

    I don't understand why these smaller companies don't just stand up to Microsoft and take them to court. I mean, I think the Department of Justice and various states demonstrated pretty clearly that all you need to go up against Microsoft is millions of dollars and a small army of lawyers. If you don't believe me, or squeak something about DOJ not really being successful, consider "little guy" Sun Microsystems, who sued over Java.

    More seriously, this is getting ridiculous. I can understand Microsoft wanted to protect its branding -- names like Lindows are meant to draw people away from MS Windows -- but they're just bullies.

    You know, a real solution would be for someone to come up with a new metaphor, or paradigm.

    But I'll never cave to this intimidation! See, I've bared a Window® into my soul. This is our Window® of opportunity to take a stand against this Window® dressing. It's our Window®

    Damn, it's getting stuffy in here, excuse me while I go open the f*cking Window®.
  • by Nefrayu ( 601593 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:49PM (#4780406) Homepage
    As any avid /.er knows already, we can from here on out refer to any incarnation of Windows (software, automotive, or building portal) as a "security hole."

    "Dear ___,
    Please cease and desist the use of the phrase "security hole" as this is a registered trademark of the Microsoft corporation. As is well known throught the international community, we make the biggest and best security holes, and wouldn't want people to confuse your small, easily fixable holes with our more presigious, gaping security holes (heretofore refered to as "new features" and/or "Outlook") in all of our software products.
    Thank you for your time.
  • How can this work? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by haggar ( 72771 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:51PM (#4780419) Homepage Journal
    Company A contacts company B and says "you can't use the name X for your product, we suggest you use Y".

    So, company B obliges....

    What the fuck? Why? If X is something as generic as Windows and is not trademarked, I can use it for whatever the hell I like.

    Does this mean we may not use Office, Money, Exchange etc. etc. in naming our porducts? I have an incredible itch to challenge this.
  • by bstadil ( 7110 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:51PM (#4780423) Homepage
    The best defense I can think of that I have never seen (Maybe its there just missed it) in any articles let alone legal Briefs on using common names for a product is that the risk of dilution comes with the territory.

    This is offset by the initial benefit you get when you chose it. Choose a generic non descript name and your effort to make it stick in peoples mind is MUCH harder than using a descriptive name.

    Take the story we had the other day about eVISA. The Credit card organization chose VISA precisely because it was a well known word with a meaning that dovetailed with their positioning idea. IE Something that allows you to go some place with no problem. They got the benefit now live with the drawback.

    Now Windows. What the F.... It was chosen because it described exactly what the program was trying to do with a metaphor that everyone understood. They reaped the benefit now they should live with the drawback, or change themselves.

    Good initial names that turns on the corporation is common. Take Kentucky Fried Chicken. They now spend millions to get rid of the Fried connotation as they repositions themselves as KFC. Does that mean that using the initial name was foolish? No, They wouldn't have got to where they are without the initial descriptive name.

    Same can be argued for Microsoft's Windows,

  • by dh003i ( 203189 ) <> on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:52PM (#4780427) Homepage Journal
    Windows is a generic term. It always has been a generic term and always will be a generic term. In every GUI, different frames of programs are called "windows". "Windows" should have never received a trademark in the first place, as it was generic when the trademark was granted.

    Thus, no one should heed MS's demands to change their name. The Lindows case already proved the "windows" trademark was void.
  • by msquadrat ( 525006 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @01:53PM (#4780432) Homepage
    Microsoft very clearly tells you how not to say "Windows" [] and the right way to call it []:
    When you start up Windows, click on the...
    When you start up Microsoft® Windows® operating system, click on the...
    They must have interesting keyboards in Redmond, typing "®" in their everyday correspondence...
  • This Sucks! (Score:5, Funny)

    by spoonist ( 32012 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @02:12PM (#4780514) Journal
    I amd the recipient of one of these letters. Here's the deal:

    I was told to stop using the term Windows(tm) in conjunction with my home improvement project. I was informed that now I have to call the items openings especially in the wall of a building for admission of light and air that is usually closed by casements or sashes containing transparent material (as glass) and capable of being opened and shut [].

    This has put a real crimp in my dealings with my contractor. They think I'm crazy for using such a long phrase when a common word would suffice.

    Is that insane, or what?
  • by Snork Asaurus ( 595692 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @02:29PM (#4780580) Journal
    Popular Canadian rock group Rush has received a letter from Microsoft's lawyers, directing them to cease and desist selling their 1985 album under the title "Power Windows". Several hundred other artists (some of whom are dead) received similar letters ordering them to remove the word "Windows" from their song titles.

    The RIAA rushed to the artists' defense and had this to say: "Bug off".

    A court battle of unprecedented magnitude and length is expected to follow as the two Titans square off.

    Elsewhere in the news ...

    - a worldwide shortage of lawyers is forecast for the next 5 years for obvious reasons

    - Webster's dictionary is bracing itself for a legal battle with Microsoft for including some definitions of the word "Windows" other than "An inexpensive and secure computer operating system from the philanthropic people at Microsoft (All praise Microsoft!) that should by law be the only operating system allowed on any computer".

    - Home Depot has been requested by Microsoft stop advertising "We Sell Windows" and are evaluating a suggestion from Microsoft that they instead advertise "Well Sell Transparent or Semi-Transparent Glass Coverings for Holes Often Found In The Sides of Buildings and Other Structures That Usually Allow The Passage Of Some Degree Of Light"

  • bluff (Score:3, Informative)

    by Veteran ( 203989 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @02:29PM (#4780583)
    All Microsoft is doing is running a bluff. Companies do this sort of thing all the time. For example when they give you an employment contract to sign they don't tell you that you can change the contract; they try to bluff you into signing it as it is.

    If the companies back down Microsoft wins. If they go to court Microsoft will eventually fold - but only after it costs the other company a lot of money. Most companies fold because they can't afford the monetary hit; even though Microsoft hasn't got a legal leg to stand on, and has lost in court every time they have tried to enforce a trademark on the word "windows".

    Guess what? Not everything in life is fair. Microsoft's behavior - if you don't recognize it - is exactly that of a school yard bully. They figure they can get away with it, and so far no court has been willing to give them a bloody enough nose to get them to stop.
  • by xintegerx ( 557455 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @02:31PM (#4780592) Homepage
    Trademarks like ASPIRIN and ESCALATOR are no longer trademarks because people begun calling those types of products by their trademark. ESCALATOR could still be a real trademark if people were told to call it ESCALATOR BRAND moving stairway. Since people say WINDOWS when they mean OPERATING SYSTEM, Windows is generic like the court says! Remember, Asprin and Escalator used to dominate the whole market so NOT using their name was hard... But the terms died!

    This is a HUGE win. I wonder if Microsoft will keep pursuing this to higher courts to be told that their trademark is still generic? That's a big risk, and they may or may not.

    However, they are showing they are Enforcing their trademark, which is a good way to demonstrate that they care about the trademark. Still, they might fall to something else..

    WHY????? Here's the scoop: If a court declares a trademark to be generic, then it is closer to its death.

    It is very simple. Trademarks like ROLLERBLADE could go to genocide when people keep saying "I'm gonna go rollerblading." That's why ROLLERBLADE has been putting ads to remind consumers these are ROLLERBLADE BRAND In-Line Skates.

    when people refer to those types of products by the trademark name

    then it stands to become generic. I suspect the way it happens is through courts.... That's why I suspect Microsoft might not pursue the generic argument in higher courts ;) And if it doesn't, maybe the ruling stands that it is generic!

    So, the term Windows is now generic. YOU CAN USE IT FREELY. Microsoft used the term Windows, which is like generic already especially in windowed operating systems. However, its biggest death is that Microsoft did not use the term "Windows Operating System."

    A LOT of people talk about Windows when they should be saying "Operating System(s)". Hence, Windows IS generic like the court says. THATS Why the court said it's generic, not because Windows are real glass things in real life...
  • RIDICULOUS! (Score:3, Informative)

    by loconet ( 415875 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @02:47PM (#4780677) Homepage
    How fucking stupid is this? MS wants WinZip and WinAmp to rename their products because of the 'Win' ?? That just makes me sick.

    I hope MS doesnt *win* the fight. oops i guess i'll be exepcting a letter from them.
  • by SensitiveMale ( 155605 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @04:05PM (#4781027)
    selling some product called 'Hole in wall with glass'.
  • These are all the listings I could find for the single word "Windows" that are registered to Microsoft.

    Just from a cursory look at these, it would appear that the only way you could use "windows" in reference to a computer or electronic device without fear of a cease and desist letter from Microsoft would be to say, "If there weren't windows in my computer room, I would never see daylight."

    Listing 1 [], Listing 2 []
    Listing 3 [], Listing 4 []
    Listing 5 [], Listing 6 []
    Listing 7 [], Listing 8 []
    Listing 9 [], Listing 10 []
    Listing 11 [], Listing 12 []
    Listing 13 []

  • by rye bean ( 625404 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @04:43PM (#4781149) Homepage Journal
    IMHO, Microsoft has the full right to do this.
    Sure, windows is a common word, but Microsoft isn't sueing the glass making companies.
    If you owned a company - Bobsoft and made an O/S -called BobOS - which you thought was really good, would you a)protect the name from people working off your achievment or b)Give everyone free reign over the name? You wouldn't sue all people who had the name Bob, but you wouls sue people using the name in their software to make it look like your brilliant company made it.

    All in all, one heck of a legal minefield...
  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @05:39PM (#4781337) Homepage Journal
    I love this! I think it's wrong, but I still love it anyway. I guess that makes me a spiteful pervert or something.

    These people supported that proprietary platform and tied their fates to it and -- gosh, who would expect it? -- suddenly their, ahem, "partner" is trying to ram a pitchfork up their asses! Oh yes, bite the pain! [].

    Several years ago, Microsoft changed the license on their NT Workstation product so that it was only allowed to have a certain number of connections. Tim O'Reilly wrote a frustrated "open letter" whining about it, [] and it was funny the same way this story is. All that hard work that other companies put into legitimizing Microsoft's products, only to be stabbed in the back ... what a shame (*snicker*). Unfortunately, Microsoft caved in back then. I hope that by now they are arrogant enough to fight to the bitter end.

    Few things give me as much pleasure as seeing Windows developers getting screwed by Microsoft. Oh, the crushed dreams, the shattered hopes and businesses, the shocked expression of pain and betrayal, ooh, is it getting warm in here?

  • by MrFreezeBU ( 54843 ) on Friday November 29, 2002 @09:24PM (#4781963) uide.htm []

    Do Not Say:
    [Your Product Name] Windows xp
    [Your Product Name] XP
    Windows XP [Your Product Name] I can't legally say that I have an Athlon XP(R) CPU...nice

May all your PUSHes be POPped.