Judges in Finland and Sweden have given Microsoft what it has twice been denied in the US: preliminary injunctions barring Linux vendor Lindows.com Inc. from using the Lindows name.

Microsoft sued Lindows.com in the US in December 2001, accusing the company of infringing its Windows trademark and asking the court to bar Lindows.com from using the Lindows name. The company lost two requests for an injunction and the matter is now for a jury to decide in a trial set to start 1 March 2004.

European courts appear to be siding with Microsoft. The Redmond, Washington, company sought a preliminary injunction in Finland on 28 November and it was granted on 1 December, company spokeswoman Stacy Drake said Thursday. In Sweden, Microsoft requested a preliminary injunction on 9 December and got it on 10 December, she said.

Microsoft has also filed a request for a preliminary injunction in the Netherlandsand intents to do so in France, where it has already taken the first step in that process by filing a complaint with a local court, Drake said.

"In response to what is a clear and obvious infringement on our trademark, Microsoft has taken action in select international territories to curtail infringing or misleading behavior on the part of Lindows.com," Drake said.

Lindows.com spokeswoman Cheryl Schwarzman said the company was unaware of the Finnish preliminary injunction or the filing of a complaint in France. Lindows did know of the Microsoft action in the Netherlands, she said.

Lindows.com Chief Executive Officer Michael Robertson in a statement issued in response to the Swedish injunction, lashed out against Microsoft's legal pursuit of his company, accusing Microsoft of using lawsuits "as a battering ram to smash Linux."

Drake denied that Microsoft is trying to stifle competition. "Microsoft's steps in this case are only about the Lindows name. We are merely asking that Lindows.com change its name, which obviously is meant to copy our Windows brand," she said. "Contrary to Lindows' statements, this is not about Microsoft trying to prevent competition."