Microsoft Sues TomTom For Linux Patent Infringement


Microsoft (MSFT) has gone and done it, they’ve filed suit in U.S. District Court claiming Linux violates their patents.

The case centres on portable GPS device maker Tomtom, which uses Linux in its device. Despite Microsoft claiming for years that parts of Linux infringe on its intellectual property, the case is believed to be the first time Microsoft has tried to prove a case against Linux in court.

No word yet on the finer points of the dispute, all we know so far is Microsoft claims eight patents were infringed. TechFlash surfaced the story:

Five of the patents in dispute relate to in-car navigation technologies, while the other three involve file-management techniques. Gutierrez said Microsoft has reached licensing agreements with with other in-car navigation vendors over the same patents, and it remains open to “quickly resolving” the TomTom dispute through licensing.

Microsoft has said previously that Linux and other open-source programs violate more than 200 of its patents — elevating the tension that has long existed between Microsoft and the open-source community. Asked if this TomTom case is the start of a broader legal campaign over those alleged violations, Gutierrez said no.

“Microsoft respects and appreciates the important role that open-source software plays in our industry and we respect and appreciate the passion and the great contribution that open-source developers make in our industry,” Gutierrez said. He said that respect and appreciation is “not inconsistent with our respect for intellectual-property rights.”

We’re expecting fireworks before this one is done: It pits the unstoppable force of Linux advocacy versus the immovable object of Microsoft tenacity.