TomTom has joined the Open Invention Network, a company that was formed to protect Linux, as a licensee.
The satnav maker announced it had signed up to the OIN on Monday. By joining, it gained access to more than 275 patents and patent applications. In return, it has to open up its own intellectual property to other OIN members, royalty-free.
"As we look to enable the Linux Ecosystem, we are pleased to have TomTom become a licensee," said OIN chief executive Keith Bergelt in a statement. "TomTom is one of a growing number of companies, of all sizes, that value the openness and collaborative culture of the Linux community. We applaud their support for Linux."
TomTom's director of intellectual property, Peter Spours, said in the same statement that the deal would help TomTom "encourage Linux development and foster innovation in a technical community that benefits everyone".
TomTom is currently being sued by Microsoft over its application of several patents, several of which are Linux-related. According to Jeremy Allison, leader of the Samba project, Microsoft's suit is an attempt to undermine the GNU General Public Licence (GPL) that underpins the relevant patents.
Groklaw editor Pamela Jones wrote on Monday that TomTom joining the OIN means "the Microsoft/TomTom battle just got bigger, and TomTom is in a stronger position than it was".