Windows Michaels minutes letter


Dear Mr. Gates:

I am writing Chairman to Chairman to discuss the lawsuit your company filed against our use of “LindowsOS” for the LINUX based operating system we are advertising and developing.

I also had the opportunity to read press accounts which state or imply that Microsoft wants to resolve the controversy “voluntarily” and out of court. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss personally a potential informal resolution of this matter. Please call me to discuss this option as soon as possible.

As I understand your lawsuit, you say purchasers will be confused because of our use of “LindowsOS” and Microsoft’s use of “WINDOWS” on its “XP PROFESSIONAL” and “XP HOME” operating systems. The corresponding and quite different logos placed next to each other are set out below for your convenience.

As you can see, the distinct labeling and the differences of our products compel the conclusion that there will be no consumer confusion. We can also create different labeling if necessary or appropriate. does not yet sell a product-at this point all we are doing is advertising. As you also are undoubtedly aware, when our operating system is ready for distribution, we plan on selling our LINUX based operating systems over the Internet to very sophisticated and discriminating customers who would not be confused that our product was created or sponsored by Microsoft. In contrast, you are selling about 90% of your operating systems to sophisticated OEM purchasers while about 10% are sold as CDs on store shelves. I can assure you that has not done and will do nothing to cause consumer confusion or trade upon Microsoft’s goodwill. All we are trying to do is give consumers a distinct choice.

Needless to say, the lawsuit came as a complete surprise. For months, we have been very public with regard to our plans. Detailed descriptions of our operating system have been extensively disclosed and written about in advertising and media. Yet we were given no notice whatsoever of your displeasure with our use of the “LindowsOS” mark or slogan until the lawsuit was filed one business day before Christmas, alleging it was a prohibited use of your mark or slogan “Windows.”

We are additionally puzzled because there was never any contact between our companies prior to the lawsuit. I would have thought that a phone call or fax, or even a formal cease and desist letter, would be a more appropriate first step to get to a voluntary resolution. On the other hand, I am glad to read in your court papers and press accounts that you are not trying to stop or prevent our company from launching our LindowsOS product-you just want us to stop using the mark or slogan “LindowsOS”. That’s good to hear because, like you, we are working hard to innovate and offer consumers a choice of novel and resourceful products.

I look forward to meeting with you to discuss the outcomes which work for both sides. It is my sincere interest to focus on delivering a unique product and not to get dragged into a lengthy court battle, so there is no need for any lawyers to meet with us.

Unfortunately, because you filed your complaint one business day before Christmas and have demanded a response in the shortest possible legal time frame (hearing set for January 11, 2002), we do not have much time to discuss this matter. Therefore, I would like to request that you continue the hearing on the preliminary injunction so that we could resolve this issue before we get bogged down in a quagmire of litigation.

I look forward to speaking with you as soon as possible.
Very truly yours,

Michael Robertson
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Inc.

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