TomTom pays Microsoft and settles patent-infringement dispute

TomTom pays Microsoft and settles patent-infringement dispute

Summary: 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.

TOPICS: Microsoft

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?

Topic: Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • paying is misspelled

    In your blog you have it as "paing" instead of paying
    • Tank goodnes yuo notised it


    • nor can you spell MIS-SPELT

      sorry but, if we're being pedantic lol
      • hmmmm

        misspelled is correct....
      • FYI

        Oxford dictionary says both "misspelled" and "misspelt" are correct.
      • Pedantic X 2

        When did they add a hyphen to misspelt?
    • MS pays Tom Tom to pay MS.

      I'm about to make a cup of tea. How much do I owe Microsoft for that again?
      • You Are Surely Safe

        You should be safe making the tea. I hear that Microsoft is busy and will be tied up for a while, suing God over His use of the "Alphabet." Especially the letters used to spell out,

        "Thou Shalt Not..."
      • You're a muppet!

        Did you buy the tea or get it for nothing? I thought so! If you own something you can then sell it.... it's a bit like labour. If you want me to work you pay me. Love em or hate em, it's life. Get with it!
    • When pointing at someone/thing, remember there are 3 fingers pointing back.

      The grammar police strike again.
      • well,

        There are different standards if writing is a part of your proffesional life.

        The average person posting a comment doesn't have to live up to the standards of a proffesional.

        • Proffessional Standards

          Oxymoron! What proffessionals? What standards? There may be writing styles demonstrated on this blog, but standards no. I'm more concerned at the low standard (I mean quality) of analysis typically demonstrated by the bloggers. The TalkBack is more interesting, entertaining and spans the spectrum of quality.
    • I was only pointing it out so she could fix it,

  • RE: TomTom pays Microsoft and settles patent-infringement dispute

    And the winner is Microsoft just like we all predicted. I still won't be buying any TomTom products due to their actions. Obviously there is something to the Microsoft patents and the linux vendors who did the deals already are safe. The others should be considering the deals and getting their paperwork prepped to sign an agreement with Microsoft. Its the only way they can survive.
    Loverock Davidson
  • Only way out

    [i]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.[/i]

    Good for TomTom. Barring the (very expensive and risky) determination that those filesystem patents are invalid per [i]Bilski[/i], this is the only legal way to go.

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

    It sets a great example: stick to keeping your existing obligations while complying with the law. Sure beats the approach Novell tried.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Bottom line: They admitted guilt to illegally using MS patent.

      I'm not so sure that sets a "good" example for the world or our children.

      • No, TomTom only agreed to a cross licensing deal, and the amount paid by

        TomTom is probably insignificant.This will at least allow MS to keep rattling their sabers though.
        • That is what Novell did too

          That is what Novell did to - they have a cross licensing agreement with
          Microsoft with the same conditions.

          Microsoft has developed technologies that they have patented. You can
          either make the system that sucks right now - semi-workable or you can
          try to rage against the machine and accomplish nothing in the process.

          I hate the idea that many of these patens are for the 'bloody obvious' or
          slight variations on an existing idea - but the US government has show
          little effort to fix the problem, so the industry will have to find a way to
          address it.
        • Donnie....what you previously called.....

          the DUH factor: <br>

          Sure is odd that with it being an obvious patent, with prior art and the patent having run out, the DUH factor belongs to Tom Tom for admitting guilt and paying up then, huh?
        • true: not an admission, but a deal

          TomTom probably does not want to fight because
          it has not enough money to pay and had to
          defend 8 cases when only opposing 4. Going with
          the deal does not mean that there was an

          Anyway, for the TOMTOL device, the LFN support
          is completely non essential.

          What is only needed is the support for FAT,
          because the list of files with long file names
          can be crated by a separate hidden file
          containing the mapping between the long file
          name (compatible with Unix) and the short
          filename in its FAT volume (note that this
          technic has been used for long on Linux/Unix
          and MacOS to support LFN on CDROMs, before the
          adoption of the Joliet extension to ISO 9660;
          Microsoft used a simialr trick to support Mac
          volumes with resource forks on FAT volumes,
          using a special hidden directories).

          The difference of performance is insignificant
          here because the TOMTOM device uses solid-state
          storage, so its builtin GUI interface can be
          rebuilt to display the name from this; as well,
          its driver for PCs can also automatically
          handle the mapping and update the LFN mapping
          file without using the tweaks of storing LFNsin
          the FAT directory (using additonal entries with
          an invalid attribute byte to use the other
          bytes in the fixed entry).

          The problem will be that the new TOMTOM device
          could become incompatible and won't be able to
          load properly the SDCards formatted in FAT
          format by digital cameras or mobile phones and
          that use a LFN extension to allow giving
          meaningfule names to these images (so you'll
          get photos named only like "IMG00001.JPG"...

          Is it really a big deal? If the TOMTOM device
          needs LFN support for something else, what it
          can do is to use another filesystem, or use the
          FAT without LFN but with the mapping file.

          However it is still possible that the problem
          is not there but in the FAT32 extension of FAT:
          without it, FAT only supports 65000 clusters
          and this limits the usable data space if no
          partitio is used. Is at least the FAT32
          extension supported without breaking a patent?
          If so, FAT is a dead filesystem for TOMTOM,
          that should go with something else: the ISO9660
          and UFS are alternatives.

          But now that TOMTOM accepts to surrender, why
          did it accept to pay without getting anything
          in return? Paying, plus givingits own patents
          for free to Microsoft is excessive. Microsoft
          is now profitting from another smaller company.

          Can Google come to the rescue to TOMTOM?

          If not, it will disapear very soon : TOMTOM is
          already the most costly navigation system, but
          it is not alone now, and there are plenty of
          competitors, most of them licencing Windows
          Mobile from Microsoft. And all of them are
          buying their cartography data from the same few
          sources, and there's nothing very specific to
          their hardware.

          The only specific thing is the navigation
          software's GUI, made for usability, but I think
          that MIO is better than TOMTOM for its user
          interface, and also offers a more precise
          satellite tracking and a faster recovery. All
          what TOM TOM can do to resist is to extend its
          devices with other functions: integrate radio,
          photo album, music reader, connection of 4G
          networks, mobile internet access, connection
          with the mobile phone, interface with car
          controls, integrate a low-power WiFi hub for
          passengers, improve the portability (out of the
          car, when walking).
          TOMTOM should also work with mobile phone
          makers to integrate its own function, or to
          promote the live update of navigation data in
          partnership with networks of local radio
          broadcasters, or with web search engines and
          yellow page services. There's certainly a lot
          that can be done in a mobile appliance, but
          TOMTOM should not have to work pay Microsoft.

          Let's hope that Microsoft will not tart selling
          its own navigation systems (now the risk is
          high, and even the existing TOMTOM competitors
          may protest as they have licenced Windows).

          Why did they even chose Windows OS or a Windows
          storage system, instead of just creating a USB
          driver for Windows (for the connectivity), or
          using patent-free web protocols like HTTP and
          WebDAV for controling and interfacing these