TomTom pays Microsoft and settles patent-infringement dispute

Microsoft and TomTom have settled the patent-infringement suits (and countersuits) between the two vendors, Microsoft announced March 30. Microsoft is not paing TomTom, but TomTom is paying Microsoft an undisclosed amount as part of the deal.

Microsoft and TomTom have settled the patent-infringement suits (and countersuits) between the two vendors, Microsoft announced March 30.

Microsoft is not paing TomTom, but TomTom is paying Microsoft an undisclosed amount as part of the deal.

Here is Microsoft's official statement:

"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."

There has been much speculation that TomTom was unwilling to license at least four of Microsoft's patents because of incompatibility of those licenses with GNU General Public License terms. But TomTom officials have declined to discuss the case publicly in any way over the past month, so no one knew for sure.

Microsoft's statement specifically mentions that TomTom is taking pains not to violate the GPL version 2 terms via the new licensing arrangement forged between the two companies> TomTom is removing from its products the functionality that seemingly infringed on Microsoft's file-allocation table (FAT) patents:

"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."

Bottom line: TomTom -- unlike some other companies developing around Linux which have signed patent-licensing deals with Microsoft -- isn't licensing Microsoft's FAT as part of this agreement.

What's your take? Is the settlement good or bad for Linux vendors who might be in Microsoft's sights?

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