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Red-eye to Amsterdam

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.

Help ensure choice & then show it off with this shirt

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

Mr. Ballmer,

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you about two weeks ago about verbal threats made to some LindowsOS' Dutch resellers, those threats were quickly withdrawn, according to local newspapers who reported on them.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 competition.
None of these letters or communications identify even a single person who is confused into believing or its LindowsOS product are in any way affiliated with or endorsed by Microsoft. These letters, sent almost two years after first starting doing business in these countries, but on the eve of our long-expected trial in Seattle, appear focused solely on taxing 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 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

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 is not affiliated with or endorsed by Microsoft in any way -- on the 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.


Michael Robertson
CEO Inc.

Visit ChoicePC to take a stand to ensure that on your next PC purchase, you have a choice of software.

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