This is exactly what we were afraid of.
Last month, when Microsoft (MSFT) sued Dutch GPS-maker TomTom on the principle that parts of Linux — which form the guts of TomTom’s device — violate Microsoft’s patents, we hoped for a quick settlement. Linux/open source advocacy on the Internet is something akin to a religious movement, and a Linux vs Microsoft fight over intellectual property is bound to get really ugly.
Well, it’s on. TomTom, in a move we don’t see the logic in, is now countersuing Microsoft, alleging that Microsoft’s own Streets & Trips software infringes on TomTom’s own patents.
An army of Linux crazies ranting endlessly about the ‘evil’ of Microsoft is the last thing the company needs as it prepares a host of new products for market like Windows 7, Kumo, and Azure. It’s also worth noting that Microsoft has the best lawyers money can buy, so if TomTom really forces the dispute to trial, there’s a good chance Linux can lose, with tough precedents set for the entire open source community.
Microsoft, sensibly, continues to plead for a settlement.
We are reviewing TomTom’s filing, which we have just received. As has been the case for more than a year, we remain committed to a licensing solution, although we will continue to press ahead with the complaints we initiated in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington and the International Trade Commission