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TomTom - "Settled, But Not Over Yet" says SFLC - Update
Monday, March 30 2009 @ 06:22 PM EDT

Software Freedom Law Center has put out the following statement, which is harmonious with everything else I've been able to glean:
Settled, But Not Over Yet

Today's settlement between Microsoft and TomTom ends one phase of the community's response to Microsoft patent aggression, and begins another. On the basis of the information we have, we have no reason to believe that TomTom's settlement agreement with Microsoft violates the license on the kernel, Linux, or any other free software used in its products. The settlement neither implies that Microsoft patents are valid nor that TomTom's products were or are infringing.

There's more. Red Hat's legal eagles have put out a statement too, the meat of which is this: "Red Hat was not a party to this case. Even so, without a judicial decision, the settlement does not demonstrate that the claims of Microsoft were valid."

In fact, SFLC says they believe they are invalid:
The FAT filesystem patents on which Microsoft sued are now and have always been invalid patents in our professional opinion. SFLC remains committed to protecting the interests of our clients and the community. We will act forcefully to protect all users and developers of free software against further intimidation or interference from these patents.

SFLC, working with the Open Invention Network and the Linux Foundation, is pleased to participate in a coordinated, carefully graduated response on behalf of all the community's members to ongoing anti-competitive Microsoft conduct. We believe in strength through unity, and we think our community's unity in the face of these threats has helped to bring about Microsoft's quick settlement on all issues with TomTom.

What? You thought Microsoft's spin on things was always Gospel? This doesn't mean TomTom was the greatest with the mostest. But it means they colored within the lines. And now, stay tuned. It sounds like we all get to participate in "a coordinated, carefully graduated response ... to ongoing anti-competitive Microsoft conduct."

Whoah. I'm in. You?

Update: I thought it would be good to show you what some thought would happen to TomTom, written by Brian Kahin, Senior Fellow at the Computer & Communications Industry Association in Washington, DC., on Huffington Post, back when the Microsoft lawsuit was filed:

So here's what it looks like to me:

1. Microsoft has abandoned its long history of not suing on software patents, in order to attack the Linux operating system. (Other patents at issue are specific to GPS systems.)

2. It has attacked Linux in the embedded devices market, where Linux has been conspicuously successful. This avoids the problem of suing developers or users of Linux distributions, such as Red Hat, which would threaten the many large Microsoft customers that use both Windows and Linux.

3. Even if the Linux community rides to the rescue, TomTom will be under pressure from its shareholders to settle quickly on "undisclosed terms" and, weakened as is, to avoid the cost and uncertainty of making a posterchild of itself.

4. More likely, TomTom will sell out to Microsoft, which tried to buy TomTom in mid-2006. Companies with large patent portfolios can drive hard bargains. With TomTom in a bind at the bank, Microsoft can use its patents to acquire TomTom on the cheap.

5. By demonstrating its willingness to sue a small company, Microsoft can induce others to settle, while undermining confidence in the market for embedded Linux. By contrast, when IBM sought to impress the world with its patent portfolio, it at least picked on Amazon -- a company able to defend itself and with a reputation for asserting patents aggressively. (Remember the one-click ordering patent that Amazon used in its holiday-season attack on Barnes and Noble?)....

In fact, the lawsuit publicizes a patent trap of Microsoft's own creation. Microsoft created a de facto industry standard in the FAT (File Allocation Table) format that it made widely available for adoption without letting it be known that it held and would assert the patents behind the standard. What makes the FAT patents valuable is not the technology behind them but the fact that they were promoted and accepted as a standard without word that Microsoft would someday come asking for money. Two of the patents are for converting between long and short file names - a FAT function that is commonly implemented in digital cameras, MP3 players, and other devices, not just in Windows and Linux.

As you can see, Microsoft goals, as he saw them, were not successful. TomTom was not weakened or taken over by Microsoft, and it continues to operate, using Linux, and without violating the GPL.


TomTom - "Settled, But Not Over Yet" says SFLC - Update | 65 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
TomTom - "Settled, But Not Over Yet" says SFLC
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 30 2009 @ 06:29 PM EDT
I'm In.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What a day!
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 30 2009 @ 06:31 PM EDT

First this news with regards indication that MS certainly caved due to the total pressure brought to bear.

Then the news with regards the potential of SCOG going Chapter 7.

I'm waiting on the edge of my seat for official news from the Courthouse with regards SCOG!


[ Reply to This | # ]

  • What a day! - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 30 2009 @ 06:44 PM EDT
TomTom - "Settled, But Not Over Yet" says SFLC
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 30 2009 @ 06:55 PM EDT
"According to the agreement's terms, TomTom will remove within two years
from its products functionality related to two file-management system patents
that violate Microsoft intellectual property. Customers will be protected during
that period from patent infringement claims from Microsoft, the company

Here we go again, users being threatened for patent infringement. What happens
after two years. Anyone with a registered Tom Tom that doesn't have the update
gets sued like the RIAA is trying to do?

Microsoft. If you want to know why I hate your products, THIS IS IT!!!!!

When someone buys something, IT ISN'T YOURS!!!!

I would point to the article on Computerworld, but I get an application error
when I try to point to this link.

So go to and look for the article titled:TomTom to pay
Microsoft to settle patent cases


YES, YES, YES I'M IN!!!!!!!!!!

And I apologize for all the unacceptable language I had to edit out because
this is a polite web site.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections thread
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Monday, March 30 2009 @ 06:57 PM EDT
Please place corrections to the article here.


"Then you admit confirming not denying you ever said that?"
"NO! ... I mean Yes! WHAT?"
"I'll put `maybe.'"
--Bloom County

[ Reply to This | # ]

[NP] Groklaw News Picks discussion
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Monday, March 30 2009 @ 06:59 PM EDT
Discuss Groklaw News Picks here.

Please mention which News Pick you are commenting on.


"Then you admit confirming not denying you ever said that?"
"NO! ... I mean Yes! WHAT?"
"I'll put `maybe.'"
--Bloom County

[ Reply to This | # ]

[OT] The Off Topic thread
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Monday, March 30 2009 @ 07:02 PM EDT
Place comments here that are not about The Article, Corrections, or Groklaw News Picks.

Make clickies to best avoid breaking page width.


"Then you admit confirming not denying you ever said that?"
"NO! ... I mean Yes! WHAT?"
"I'll put `maybe.'"
--Bloom County

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's message: use Linux, get sued
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 30 2009 @ 07:43 PM EDT
I believe msft is being very successful with that message.

That message is what the entire scox-scam is about. Think about it, why sue IBM?
IBM is not even a Linux distributor. But, IBM had just made a big contribution
to linux, and msft wants the world to know: that sort of action does not go

The tomtom suit is another slam-dunk msft victory. Msft gets free access to
tomtom's patents, msft gets money from tomtom, and tomtom has to stop using fat.
Most importantly of all, the message is broadcast: use Linux, get sued.

It doesn't matter whether or not the lawsuit has merit. Unless you have about
$50 million to fight the lawsuit, msft wins as soon as they file the suit.

[ Reply to This | # ]

TomTom - "Settled, But Not Over Yet" says SFLC
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 30 2009 @ 07:59 PM EDT
I thought the FAT patent was already invalidated by virtue of prior art?? I
thought pubpat took it to the USPTO?? Am I missing something?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Klass Aktion, anybody?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 31 2009 @ 02:04 AM EDT
So, M$ keeps on suing the pants off everybody and anybody with its invalid

Even standards bodies (like the SD card makers' association), have to cave in to
pay royalties to them for the patents.

But even M$ does not have the guts to let their patents to stand a test of
validity in a court of law.

Can somebody initiate a class action suit against M$ for using invalid patents
for racketeering?

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Case of Strange IBM Patent
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 31 2009 @ 02:08 AM EDT
Without comment:-

[ Reply to This | # ]

Bigger Pictures
Authored by: sproggit on Tuesday, March 31 2009 @ 02:51 AM EDT
We've all been around this circus enough times to know that things are never
what they first seem to be. So I got to thinking about Microsoft's strategy

It wasn't *that* long ago that Microsoft had nothing much in the way of patents
and little apparent interest. Then they hired that ex-IBM patent guy and within
a couple of years they are one of the most prolific generators of patent
applications at the USPTO. Fine, they want to spend a huge amount of money on
that, good luck to them. Especially as many have pointed out the trivial and
obvious nature of some of their applications [ including one to launch an
application when a mouse button is clicked, for example - obviously when Apple
clicked the button on their first mouse the office light went on and off ].

Anyway, let's fast-forward to now.

Microsoft have done some patent non-aggression stuff with a couple of Linux
distributors, Novell being the first and most obvious, and by and large that
started to unravel for them. I think we've pretty much got to the point that
with the SFLC and the OIN willing to go to bat, and as PJ points out, Microsoft
are getting increasingly slim pickings. Besides, they will only be going for the
bigger distros anyway - those with a commercial presence in the US.

So now Tom-Tom?

Let's consider why them, for a moment. We could argue that this could be a shift
in MS strategy to target the embedded world. Let's be honest, Windows CE, or
Embedded, or whatever else they call it these days, is a dead duck. First we had
the iPhone and now WebOS on the Palm Pre and suddenly anything MS have looks
clunky by comparison. So we could argue, with some substance, that this could be
an attempt to strong arm a weaker product into a market sector in which the
current [ and frankly below-par ] Microsoft product is losing out market share.

Well that's obvious. So no points to us for stating same.

What else?

How about this? Just suppose that Microsoft are targeting companies because of
the IP portfolios that those businesses have built up and hold. Tom-Tom are
pretty strong in the GPS space, possibly digital mapping. So Microsoft went
after them for a violation of the FAT patent??? Yeah, right...

Do you think that Microsoft is picking targets on the basis of the IP rights
they [Microsoft] would get access to in any possible cross-licensing deal?

Think about it.

This isn't just about Microsoft 'defending their precious IP' any more than SCO
took on IBM for the same reason. This could be about Microsoft using the threat
of patent litigation to get their hands on "free" patents in fields of
technology in which they are not already dominant but wish to be.

This is Embrace, Extend, Extinguish re-engineered to a whole new level.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Yep - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 01 2009 @ 03:04 PM EDT
    • Yep - Authored by: PJ on Wednesday, April 01 2009 @ 04:27 PM EDT
TomTom - "Settled, But Not Over Yet" says SFLC
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 31 2009 @ 06:33 AM EDT
Within 2,5 years I'll ask TomTom for the source code of the Linux based GPS I've
bought last month. And They've to provide the source code for the binary I've.
But they wont, because this agreement forbids them to do so. This will violate
GPL v2.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Confused over Tomtom announcement
Authored by: s65_sean on Tuesday, March 31 2009 @ 07:49 AM EDT
I have read various things about this MS-Tomtom agreement. On one hand it says
this is a 5 year agreement. On the other hand, I have seen statements that
Tomtom will remove anything related to MS's patents within 2 years, and that MS
promises not to sue Tomtom's customers during that 2 year period. Once Tomtom
isn't using anything related to MS's claimed patents, why is there another 3
years of "agreement" in the mix? What else is in the agrement that
hasn't been made public?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Graduated Response?
Authored by: The Mad Hatter r on Tuesday, March 31 2009 @ 01:31 PM EDT

You want Microsoft to Graduate?

OK, OK, it isn't funny. But I couldn't resist.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 01 2009 @ 04:42 PM EDT
CUSTOMERS / USERS responsibility for PATENT (not:
COPYRIGHT) possible at all ???

Im surprised why here in groklaw never is discussed
inhowfar even exist a CUSTOMERS / CONSUMERS responsibility
for PATENT infractions (not COPYRIGHT), or if this is a
new invention by MS, making their advices and practics but
also agreements like with Novell more foolish even

At least in Europa, Brasil and other countries with modern
consumer protection laws this is not even inexistent but
completely absurd.

There are at least 2 principles, which I suppose are valid
also in other law systems:

1) The consumer can never be responsibled for errors of
the production process, nor need to know nor to clear
exactly who it is. To the consumer are responsible for all
factual defects solidarily all producers, and these who he
decides to demand, can regress the others where they then
are in the position of (not-end-)consumers in turn,
sukzessively. In this manner the consumers are protected
aaginst the otherwhise game of divide obligations and join
rights by the producers, at the same time the consumer
dont know nor need to know the contracts and distribution
of obligations between the producers. Even when one of
the producers would try to make responsable the consumer
for any juridical or factual defect of the production
process (like: illegality to use the product/service,
right by 3rds or by any co-producer, violated patent
rights) then the consumer could declare him imediately
compansation with this producers collective/solidary
responsibility for all production defects inclusive for
the 'illegality' what this producer heself claim

2) In opposite to copyright questions, patent right is a
pure comercial right between comercial concurrents /
producers. Thus its impossible to process any end user
for patent right violations ...

The american law may be different, but it cannot be so
different that all logical and juridical principles are
invalid. Otherwhise, we only can hope that the american
economy will most fast possible victime of such

[ Reply to This | # ]

By the tomtom affair, Microsoft "lost its clothes"
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 01 2009 @ 04:53 PM EDT
The tomtom affair is seen too unilateral from the side
that MS again managed it to force a firma to pay royalties

I think a much more aspect is ignored.

For me, by this affair, MS lost their clothes, and stay
now naked, poor.

Because, in a process about the kernel, the best what at
the end the big MS had and could used to get some small
money -- was their old FAT filesysteme. Nothing else
relevant. Where are all this claimed <200 patent right
violations in the Linux kernel ????

The second aspect is: when after years of ignorance MS now
comes to process royalties over the FAT filesystem,
inclusive the quoted danger to stay naked there -- then
for me this is no frontal attack against Linux. It is
just ... MS meanwhile falled so low, that they have to run
behind every penny. I think thats the reality, simply.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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