Lindows.com is raising the white flag and will change its name outside the US instead of fighting Microsoft in international courts, the company has announced.

The company will unveil its new international name next Wednesday, Michael Robertson, founder and chief executive officer of the San Diego-based Linux vendor said in a statement on the company's website. "To assure that we can do business globally, we are in the process of selecting a different name for our web presence and product name," he wrote. "I believe it's the only way to respond to an onslaught from such a rich company."

To expect anything else from Microsoft could be seen as naive in the extreme, but the decision has been forced onto the company after a federal judge in Seattle recently denied its request to stop Microsoft from pursuing it outside the US.

Microsoft sued Lindows.com in the US in December 2001, accusing the company of infringing its Windows trademark and asked the court to bar Lindows.com from using the Lindows name. Microsoft has since lost two injunctions in the US and the trial has been delayed.

But it has had far more success in courts outside the US, winning injunctions in Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands. It is further pursuing the case in France and Spain, as well as Canada and Mexico.

"The goal of these actions is very simple, we're only asking that Lindows change their name and compete with a name that is distinctly their own and not such an obvious infringement of our trademark," Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake said earlier this week.

Lindows' original reaction to that was register and run its business in the Netherlands at the website www.lin---s.com. Robertson says on the site thought that he is looking for different ideas - his current favourite being "lindos" - "because it's the 'W' that is causing all the problems". Lindows is reviewing candidates we are told and the new name will be announced on 14 April. You can add your own suggestion on the company's forums here.

Robertson has characterised Microsoft as a bully, using lawsuits "as a battering ram to smash Linux". Lindows is the only viable desktop Linux offering and poses a significant threat to Microsoft's rule on desktop computers, he claimed. Microsoft, however, sticks to the line that it is concerned only with the name.

The battle with Microsoft in the US courts could take as long as two years, if it goes all the way to the Supreme Court. Lindows' approach is to get "windows" declared a generic word.

If successful in the US, Lindows.com will ask the State Department to petition foreign governments to invalidate Microsoft's Windows trademark. However, Robertson in an interview earlier this year acknowledged that his case is weaker in non-English speaking countries because the term "windows" has no generic meaning in languages other than English.