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Open Invention Network Extends The Linux Ecosystem As TomTom Becomes Licensee
Monday, March 23 2009 @ 08:11 AM EDT

I wanted to highlight this press release, instead of just putting it in News Picks, to make sure you see it and understand the significance of it. It's a press release from Open Invention Network, the Linux Defenders 911 folks, and they announced today that TomTom is now a licensee. That means it comes under the protection of OIN, it makes all its patents available royalty-free to anyone else in the OIN network or who agrees not to assert its patents against the Linux System:
OIN has accumulated more than 275 strategic, worldwide patents and patent applications. These patents are available to all licensees as part of the patent portfolio that OIN is creating around, and in support of Linux.
I'd say the Microsoft/TomTom battle just got bigger, and TomTom is in a stronger position than it was, although TomTom itself has a number of patents of its own, including reportedly a number it purchased in 2007 for just such a moment as this, according to GPS:
Over the years TomTom has built up a strong IP portfolio of navigation patents both through acquisitions and its own research activity. Because TomTom came rather late to the navigation space, when it started facing lawsuits (against Garmin) the Dutch company was in need of early, broad patents for cross licensing situations. Some of these were bought from Horizon navigation in June 2007 for $29 million. Within the patent set named in this litigation two were bought from Visteon and the two others from Horizon Navigation.
That article opines that this will all end in a settlement, but I doubt it, since the GPL makes it impossible to pay any royalties for patents on GPL'd code. That doesn't mean no resolution is possible, as Red Hat showed the way to do that without violating the GPL. I doubt that Microsoft would be willing to do a deal like that, though, since it would make its FAT patents and all the rest it is aiming at TomTom available to one and all (in the Linux world) forever more royalty-free.

Remember to report any prior art on the FAT patents to Linux Defenders 911. Here is the press release:

********************************

Open Invention Network Extends The Linux Ecosystem As TomTom Becomes Licensee

Open Invention Network™ (OIN), the company formed to enable and protect Linux, today extended the Linux ecosystem with the signing of TomTom as a licensee. By becoming a licensee, TomTom has joined the growing list of companies that recognize the importance of participating in a substantial community of Linux supporters and leveraging the Open Invention Network to further spur open source innovation.

Durham, NC (PRWEB) March 23, 2009 -- Open Invention Network (OIN), the company formed to enable and protect Linux, today extended the Linux ecosystem with the signing of TomTom as a licensee. By becoming a licensee, TomTom has joined the growing list of companies that recognize the importance of participating in a substantial community of Linux supporters and leveraging the Open Invention Network to further spur open source innovation.

Patents owned by Open Invention Network are available royalty-free to any company, institution or individual that agrees not to assert its patents against the Linux System. This enables companies to continue to make significant corporate and capital expenditure investments in Linux - helping to fuel economic growth. By developing a web of Linux developers, distributors, sellers, resellers and end-users that license its patent portfolio, Open Invention Network is creating a supportive and shielded ecosystem to ensure the growth and adoption of Linux.

"As we look to enable the Linux Ecosystem, we are pleased to have TomTom become a licensee," said Keith Bergelt, chief executive officer of Open Invention Network. "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."

"Linux plays an important role at TomTom as the core of all our Portable Navigation Devices," said Peter Spours, director of IP at TomTom. "We believe that by becoming an Open Invention Network licensee, we encourage Linux development and foster innovation in a technical community that benefits everyone."

OIN has accumulated more than 275 strategic, worldwide patents and patent applications. These patents are available to all licensees as part of the patent portfolio that OIN is creating around, and in support of Linux. This makes it economically attractive for companies that want to repackage, embed and use Linux to host specialized services or create complementary products. Additionally, it helps ensure the continuation of innovation that has benefited software vendors, customers, emerging markets and investors.

The Open Invention Network license agreement can be found at http://www.openinventionnetwork.com/pat_license_agreement.php. About Open Invention Network Open Invention NetworkSM is a collaborative enterprise that enables innovation in open source and an increasingly vibrant ecosystem around Linux by acquiring and licensing patents, influencing behaviors and policy, and protecting the integrity of the ecosystem. It enables the growth and continuation of open source software by fostering a healthy Linux ecosystem of investors, vendors, developers and users. Open Invention Network has considerable industry backing. It was launched in 2005, and has received investments from IBM, NEC, Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony. For more information, go to www.openinventionnetwork.com. Open Invention Network, the Open Invention Network logo, Linux Defenders, Linux Defenders 911 and the Linux Defenders 911 logo are the property of Open Invention Network, LLC. All other names and brand marks are the property of their respective holders.


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