Bang the TomTom slowly

Summary:Sometimes a suit is just a suit. (What was Frank Langella actually doing when Nixon was President?

Sometimes a suit is just a suit. (What was Frank Langella actually doing when Nixon was President? Stay tuned.)

Eben Moglen and the Software Freedom Law Center are thinking about getting involved in the patent suit Microsoft filed against TomTom, writes our Elinor Mills.

The group's blog is, as of this writing, silent on the matter, so cogitation is likely continuing. Please be quiet as you walk by.

A quick glance indicates this may have nothing to do with Linux at all. The patents at issue involve putting a computer in a car, the Microsoft FAT, and some business method patents for which new defenses exist.

The fear, which I admit I'm catching in the penumbra of comments from Bruce Perens and Keith Bergelt of the Open Invention Network, is that this may be a negotiating ploy aimed at getting TomTom to do a patent cross-license, which would include Microsoft's Linux claims.

Microsoft's claims to control technology in Linux have never been litigated yet the company keeps signing cross-licenses, and collecting money from vendors, as though they are valid. Even invalid claims are valid once they're accepted.

This is probably what Moglen and company are thinking about. Fight them over there so you won't have to fight them over here.

Fortunately there are cooler heads, like Jim Zemlin of the Linux Foundation. (BTW, the picture on your blog makes you look 15, Jim -- I'm jealous.)

I disagree with my esteemed colleague Paula Rooney on what Zemlin's post means. If and if and if we will go to war does not mean the buglar is sounding charge or even pursing his lips. Here is the key bit to me:

 We do not feel assumptions should be made about the scope or facts of this case and its inclusion, if any, of Linux-related technology.

Here is another key bit.

Calm down.

Zemlin's message is to hope for the best and plan for the worst. I think he was going for a Mel Brooks lyric from his least-known classic, "The 12 Chairs":

Hope for the best, expect the worst, The world's a stage, we're unrehearsed, Some reach the top, friends,While others drop, friends, Hope for the best, expect the worst

Oh, and in the picture at the top, taken from the movie, Langella is the young man at the right. And when the movie came out Microsoft was barely a gleam in Bill Gates' eye. Point being time heals all wounds and wounds all heals. If you freak at every change you go crazy.

 

Topics: Legal, Linux, Microsoft, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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