TomTom Fires Back in Microsoft Patent War

Mar 24, 2009

Navigation software maker TomTom is now beating its drums against Microsoft for patent rights and has aligned with the Open Invention Network.

Responding to Microsoft's allegation that TomTom violated eight of its patents (see also), the Dutch manufacturer of navigation software is now fighting back. March 16 TomTom filed a patent infringement countersuit in Virginia federal court and also joined the Open Invention Network (OIN) to get a thicker shield against Microsoft.

OIN, to which also Google, IBM, Red Hat, Sony and Novell subscribe among other firms, is committed to rapid software innovation and "a refined model of intellectual property management" that safeguards open source rights. It does this by acquiring software patents and awarding them to individuals with the condition that they not claim against Linux or any of its associated firms. OIN also cooperates with Linux Defenders and the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC).

TomTom is now in a proper defensive position with its portfolio of patents and the legal support at its back. It claims that Microsoft violates four of its patents with its Streets and Trips product. Even though Microsoft general counsel Horacio Gutierrez emphasizes that the earlier MS lawsuit against TomTom is not against Linux in general, a successful outcome could negatively impact its Linux rivals.

Whether Microsoft's patents have any validity is something OIN will have to work out. The project is searching for prior art to determine if earlier patent algorithms had already existed before the patents were filed. The Microsoft-TomTom battle continues.

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