Soon after writing this, I will be getting on an overnight plane trip
headed to Amsterdam. You may have surmised from the Minute two
weeks ago that Microsoft is getting very concerned about the growth
of desktop Linux internationally. In the last 14 days, they have
launched a widespread campaign against many of our small international
partners, attempting to intimidate them to stop selling our Linux-based
software. I think choice is vital to a healthy PC business, and getting
retailers stocking Linux-based products is critical. Consumers will get
a fairer price and a better product if there is choice.
I am committed to doing whatever I can to promote choice and prevent
Microsoft from terrorizing small companies with legal threats -
especially those who have been bold enough to be the first to offer
non-Microsoft software to their customers. That's why I'm flying to
visit our resellers and let them know that I will support them. I
believe that together, we can stand up to any company - even the richest one
in the world - and bring choice back to the PC business.
I'm also asking for others to help out, because
the world needs choice, but you don't need to take a long night time
flight to Holland to do your part. We're looking for 500 people to sign up as Lifetime
LindowsOS members for $100 each, to help provide funds to ensure that choice will grow in
these countries. It's a phenomenal value that you can read more about
on the ChoicePC website, but much more importantly, 100% of the proceeds
will go to ensuring choice. You'll also have an option to add your name
to the ChoicePC website as a supporter of choice.
Below is the email we sent to Microsoft which chronicles their latest
troubling actions. Please read it, and then I hope you'll consider
adding your name to mine on the ChoicePC website.
Subject: Microsoft Corp
To: CEO Steve Ballmer
Cc: Stefan Bernhad
Cc: Mr. Alfred Meijboom
After I emailed you about two weeks ago about verbal threats made to
some LindowsOS' Dutch resellers, those threats were quickly withdrawn,
according to local newspapers who reported on them. I had assumed that all of this was
the work of an overzealous local Microsoft employee. However, recently
I received documents from attorneys working for Microsoft from both the
Netherlands and Sweden, accusing us of infringing Microsoft's
trademarks and threatening us with more lawsuits. In addition, and even
more troubling, we also received copies of threatening
letters that Microsoft sent to many of our small business partners in those
countries threatening to sue them if they continue to sell our products.
These new actions seem to be a concerted multi-country campaign
designed, approved, and commissioned by someone with authority within
Microsoft corporate headquarters in Redmond in an attempt to stifle
None of these letters or communications identify even a single
person who is confused into believing Lindows.com or its LindowsOS
product are in any way affiliated with or endorsed by Microsoft. These
letters, sent almost two years after Lindows.com first starting doing
business in these countries, but on the eve of our long-expected trial
in Seattle, appear focused solely on taxing Lindows.com resources. We
have heard that Microsoft executives are saying that they will bury us
with many lawsuits in other European countries as a business strategy.
These actions have nothing to do with confusing trademarks, but rather,
appear designed only to protect Microsoft's longstanding monopoly from
a very small competitor.
You have tied Lindows.com up in expensive litigation in the United
States since 2001 because you claim exclusive ownership of the generic
word "windows." The Court has so far found that there are serious issues
surrounding the validity of your trademark, and denied Microsoft's
repeated requests for an injunction. After years of briefing and
discovery, a jury will finally hear and decide the issue less
than three months from now. We have every intention of honoring the
eventual outcome of that case. If we lose, we plan on changing our
name, not just in the United States, but globally. Initiating
identical legal proceedings in other countries when the issue will soon
be resolved with a trial in the United States is nothing more than a
dirty tactic meant to block the adoption of Linux and to harm Lindows.com.
We don't have offices outside of North America, but we do have a handful
of small business partners for whom we will do our best to support in
the face of your intimidation. Yes, your threats frighten many of these
small companies who do not have legal departments or resources to hire
lawyers to defend themselves. These small companies are selling our
products to other small business and to consumers looking for affordable
software. We are committed to supporting our partners and users
wherever they are in the world.
Two years ago, Swedish and Dutch computer users started adopting
LindowsOS, making them some of the earliest users of our software.
Resellers have been operational for more than a year. Your decision to
take action now, two years after initiating legal proceedings in
the United States is disconcerting. We repeatedly emphasize the obvious
-- that Lindows.com is not affiliated with or endorsed by Microsoft in
any way -- on the Lindows.com website, in just about every public
statement, and on all product packaging and materials. Consumers
purchase LindowsOS because they want a choice, because they want an
alternative to Microsoft's products, not because they think they are
buying a Microsoft product.
Because Microsoft has no evidence of consumer confusion and is
suffering absolutely no harm by the limited sales in the Netherlands and
Sweden, I am asking you to postpone legal action for a few months to
give time for the U.S. action to conclude. The trial is set to begin
on March 1st, 2004, after which there will be considerably more clarity
on this issue.
Visit ChoicePC to take a stand to ensure that on your next PC purchase, you have a choice of software.
-- MichaelThe Michael's Minute Meter
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