15 January 2002 Software giant Microsoft has forced open source software developer Lindows.com to hand over its mailing list of people interested in its Linux-based operating system. The list also includes the names and email addresses of people who have contributed to the development of the company’s Windows compatible open source operating system.
Microsoft is suing the San Diego, California-based company for trademark infringement, alleging that the company is using a name too similar to Windows and thereby attempting to use the brand name to help sell its own software. It wants to prevent the company using the names Lindows.com or LindowsOS in its business.
As part of the legal process, Microsoft has asked for Lindows.com’s database of names, email addresses and postal addresses for people interested in buying the LindowsOS, which is not yet available.
“We’re not happy that a company known for illegal business practices took the unnecessary step of gaining access to our database,” said CEO Michael Robertson. “In spite of their assurances it will not be used for any purpose outside this case, we’ve alerted our users of Microsoft’s actions and believe this is another way Microsoft is attempting to intimidate a potential competitor,” he said.
LindowsOS combines Linux with the WINE software used to run Windows programs on Linux. It is intended for companies looking to move to Linux from Windows, but who cannot make the move immediately because of training issues and investment in existing Windows software.