Microsoft may view its legal settlement with TomTom as a patent victory of sorts but it's a hollow and meaningless win in the eyes of some in the open source community.
Open Invention Network CEO Keith Bergelt said the settlement announced yesterday was anticipated and expected and he is "nonplussed" with the result. He said Microsoft's effort to build a series of tiny "totem" patent cases to create fear, uncertainty and doubt about using Linux is futile.
He intimated that there will be a "response" from the community over the next few weeks but would not specify what that would be. Another effort to get the FAT patent invalidated? Who knows. "It's Newton's law. For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction," he said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
The community is strong and will ensure that Microsoft doesn't push successful open source companies off the tracks with legal maneuvers.
"This [settlement] says nothing about the validity of the patent ..... the community provided support in the best way possible and that support facilitated an interim settlement," he said, adding that the commercial success of mobile Linux will not be derailed by legal posturing. "Android only released recently and Symbion is not native Linux. [TomTom]'s code is the largest mobile population of Linux based devices in the world. This allows TomTom to get on with their business. "
He acknowledged that some were unhappy to hear about the settlement but noted that it doesn't say anything about the validity of the patent. All it says is that neither Microsoft nor SCO have the power to stop the commercial success of Linux.
"Some may say that's too bad and that tomTom should have stayed the course and fought but this is a process. Companies have their own autonomy, sovereignty and shareholders. Companies have to do what they have to do for their own reasons. It's not my place or the community's place to tell a company that it acted inappropriately.
It's not the end of the world. "
The case will only embolden the community to innovate faster on a better file naming and file management system that will only accelerate Microsoft's decline, he contends.
"I'm not worried about the FAT patent at all. I don't take the view that the patent is valid or that this [settlement] is a precedent. The community will come together. Theis patent's validity has been under challenge before and will be again," said Bergelt.
"Microsoft clearly has a plan and they think building their totems are important. I think they're hollow," he added.