TomTom agrees to pay MS for patents, settles suit

CNET US reporter Ina Fried has just reported that MS and TomTom have come to terms on their suit-countersuit. It looks like TomTom caved:"Microsoft and TomTom announced on Monday that they have reached a settlement in their respective patent suits.

CNET US reporter Ina Fried has just reported that MS and TomTom have come to terms on their suit-countersuit. It looks like TomTom caved:

"Microsoft and TomTom announced on Monday that they have reached a settlement in their respective patent suits.

As part of the deal, TomTom will pay Microsoft for coverage for the software maker's mapping-related patents as well as the file management patents that Microsoft claimed were infringed by TomTom's use of the Linux kernel. Microsoft will also get access to the TomTom patents that were cited in TomTom's countersuit against Microsoft, although Microsoft won't be making any payment to TomTom.

The settlement has a five-year term. Additional specific financial terms were not disclosed, the company said.

More details to come..."

However, the press release from Microsoft has some interesting twists:

Microsoft Corp. and TomTom N.V. today announced that they have settled the patent infringement cases brought by Microsoft before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington and the International Trade Commission (ITC) and by TomTom in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The cases have been settled through a patent agreement under which TomTom will pay Microsoft for coverage under the eight car navigation and file management systems patents in the Microsoft case. Also as part of the agreement, Microsoft receives coverage under the four patents included in the TomTom countersuit. The agreement, which has a five-year term, does not require any payment by Microsoft to TomTom. It covers both past and future U.S. sales of the relevant products. The specific financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The agreement includes patent coverage for Microsoft’s three file management systems patents provided in a manner that is fully compliant with TomTom’s obligations under the General Public License Version 2 (GPLv2). TomTom will remove from its products the functionality related to two file management system patents (the “FAT LFN patents”), which enables efficient naming, organizing, storing and accessing of file data. TomTom will remove this functionality within two years, and the agreement provides for coverage directly to TomTom’s end customers under these patents during that time.

Questions to be asked are: will TomTom write replacement software under the GPL that cuts out the MS patented areas? Will this become the default FAT long name support for everyone else, removing the problem for good? How does the two-year grace period maintain GPL 2.0 compliance? And why has Microsoft felt it necessary to publish more details of this agreement than normal — are the criticisms over its open source approach hitting home?

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