EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

03.25.09

TomTomaginot Line: Fighting Microsoft Using Patent Pools

Posted in Law, Microsoft, OIN, Patents, TomTom at 5:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Water danger
Patent pools to the rescue?

Summary: What a patent blanket/inventory may mean to TomTom’s two-way battle with Microsoft

A FEW DAYS ago we reposted the press release about TomTom joining OIN (well, OIN mailed it to us) and now we have the chance to remark on news coverage.

One of the fastest to report on this was SJVN, who published “TomTom gets allies in Microsoft Linux patent lawsuit fight.” It’s a good short article.

When Microsoft first sued TomTom for patent violations in TomTom’s Linux-powered navigation devices, I wasn’t sure how much of a fight TomTom would put up. Legally TomTom was between a rock and a hard place. You can’t use restricted-use patents in GPLed software. If Microsoft just wanted to use the lawsuit as a hostile takeover tactic, TomTom didn’t have anything like Microsoft’s financial resources to fight them with.

Glyn Moody chose a provocative headline by suggesting that the TomTom case is the new SCO case.

I don’t think this materially affects the Microsoft lawsuit, since these OIN patents are not intended to be used for attack, more to remove possible obstacles. It simply emphasises the increasingly alignment of TomTom’s interests with those of the wider GNU/Linux community, and represents a nice poke in the eye for Microsoft.

Moody is in favour of this idea which he characterises as “Patent Commons”, but we reserve some judgment against this approach which IBM’s Arnaud Le Hors wrote about two days ago (on patent pools):

The Eco-Patent Commons has momentum

[...]

The Eco-Patent Commons was launched in January 2008 with the participation of Nokia, Pitney Bowes, and Sony, in addition to IBM.

Later Bosh, Dupont, and Xerox joined, and today WBCSD announced that Ricoh and Taisei joined the commons and Dupont contributed more patents.

How convenient it must be for IBM to say all this. How many patents does this company have again? The only solace is that IBM — unlike Microsoft — does not attack Free(dom) software. It would be counter productive.

It appears as though the editor (“Leader”) of ZDNet UK has once again slammed Microsoft for its patents-centric approach against Linux. He did so several times recently, e.g. when Microsoft signed the patent deal with Brother.

The warning sound of TomTom

[...]

[T]hose were the days when Bill Gates could say that software patents had the potential to put the industry at “a complete standstill” and with good reason. If the sort of protection Microsoft now claims for itself had been available to CP/M then, Microsoft would never have created its monopoly, nor amassed a fraction of its power.

Now it has, the rules have changed. Microsoft is perfectly happy, while proclaiming openness and interoperability, to find a company in dire financial straits and then threaten it with expensive legal action over what any self-respecting programmer would identify as a hackish kludge–something that advances the art of computer software not one bit.

David Meyer from ZDNet UK reported on these TomTom-OIN affairs, but he added no new information.

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.

The implications of this are more properly discussed over at Groklaw and it remains to be seen how TomTom can use patents to fight some more patents (the GPL forbids cross-licensing in this case), as opposed to pushing for the ‘Bilski test’ — that is, seeing if it can be applied to software.

Dana Blankenhorn voices an opinion and The Register adds very little information other than some background that leads up to the OIN story.

TomTom has now thrown its name into the ring, and has probably bagged a few more supporters along the way in its noisy legal spat with Microsoft.

The software giant issued a lawsuit against TomTom in late February when it accused the firm of infringing eight of its patents.

Just last week TomTom hit back with a patent claim of its own in which it accused Microsoft’s Streets and Trips products of infringing four patents in the vendor’s vehicle navigation software.

This was also covered by Heise and Microsoft’s PR tool, Ina Fried. It was mentioned along the way in Tectonic, but there is too little in-depth analysis that we could find.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. The Death of Software Patents is Already Killing Some Major Patent Trolls

    VirnetX seems to be the latest victim of the demise of software patents in the United States



  2. More Microsoft Layoffs

    More Microsoft layoffs go ahead as the company is unable to compete



  3. ODF on the Rise

    Milestones for OpenDocument Format (ODF) and the launch of FixMyDocuments



  4. Links 17/9/2014: CoreOS, ChromeOS, and systemd

    Links for the day



  5. Italy is Cracking Down on Microsoft's Monopoly Abuse While Gradually Moving to GNU/Linux

    Italy is not only moving to Free/Open Source software but also to GNU/Linux while at the same time barring Microsoft from forcibly tying Windows to new PCs



  6. OpenSUSE's 'Assurances' Are Classic MBA School Hogwash

    OpenSUSE is not part of any commitment, except for SUSE's; the impact of the Novell/SUSE acquisition casts uncertainty on the project's future



  7. Links 16/9/2014: Firefox OS Smartphones in Bangladesh, “Treasure Map” of the Internet

    Links for the day



  8. The United Kingdom Should Dump Microsoft For the Sake of National Security

    The UK has issues of Microsoft dependency and Windows viruses; its migration to Free software and GNU/Linux is not fast enough to guard its autonomy in the age of digital imperialism<



  9. CBS Hires Even More Microsoft Staff to Cover Microsoft Matters

    CBS continues to be infested with Microsoft staff past and present (this time Dave Johnson) and the bias in output is quite revealing



  10. Microsoft Has Just Killed Minecraft for GNU/Linux and the Possibility of Free/Open Source Releases

    Persson sells out to Microsoft and lets the abusive monopolist destroy the popular cross-platform game that a community has been built around



  11. Another Reason to Boycott Intel UEFI

    More anti-competitive aspects are revealed inside UEFI, which helps merginalise GNU/Linux



  12. Quick Mention: Novell and SUSE Passed to Microsoft's 'Partner of the Year', Microsoft Focus

    Novell is changing hands again, and falling into the hands of even more Microsoft-friendly actors



  13. Links 16/9/2014: Linux 3.17 RC5, KDE Frameworks 5.2.0

    Links for the day



  14. Željko Topić, Benoît Battistelli, and the European Patent Office (EPO): Part II

    Part II of our look into the EPO appointment of Željko Topić and other matters showing the dubious integrity of the EPO



  15. Links 14/9/2014: Android-based Watches Earn Optimism

    Links for the day



  16. Links 14/9/2014: Eucalyptus Devoured

    Links for the day



  17. Links 11/9/2014: Linux Toilet Project, Linux-Based Wheelchair Project

    Links for the day



  18. Links 10/9/2014: Brian Stevens in Google, Ubuntu 14.10 Expectations

    Links for the day



  19. Links 9/9/2014: Hating/Loving Linux, Android Aplenty

    Links for the day



  20. Links 8/9/2014: Linux 3.17 RC 4, Switzerland Welcoming Snowden

    Links for the day



  21. Suspicion of High-Level Corruption at the European Patent Office (EPO): Part I

    The European Patent Office (EPO) Vice-President has a background of corruption and his appointment to the EPO too is believed to be reliant on systemic corruption



  22. Links 6/9/2014: Core OS at DigitalOcean, Women in Xorg

    Links for the day



  23. Software Patents 'Quality' Debated in Courts, Microsoft's Biggest Patent Troll Still a Chronic Liar

    Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft's and Bill Gates' largest patent proxy, continues to spread lies about its motivations, claiming that patent assessment is among the goals when in fact only the courts and patent offices do this



  24. New Article Explains How Bill Gates Prevents Schools From Moving to GNU/Linux and Free Software

    A new article from Al Jazeera provides details about the role of so-called 'charities' of billionaires inside school systems



  25. Microsoft Sued for Large-scale Copyright Abuses

    Microsoft reveals its disregard for copyright law which it loves so much to wield as a weapon against its competition and clients



  26. Links 5/9/2014: New WordPress, Systemd Debate Continues

    Links for the day



  27. 'Embrace and Extend' at Microsoft: The New Generation

    Some of the latest examples of Microsoft's predatory acts against Free software and against competition in general, disguised as acts of friendliness



  28. Bill Gates' God Complex: Common Core a One-Man Campaign of Greed and Control

    The push for Common Core is overwhelmingly dominated by Bill Gates, who intimidates and even resorts to retribution against critics while bribing those who help him accomplish the goal of privatised (for his private profit) indoctrination in US schools



  29. Bill Gates Investments Harm the World, Not Improve the World, Based on New Exclusive Piece of Investigative Journalism at The Nation

    The Gates Foundation's profiteering efforts and lack of ethics outlined in a new report that many sites around the Web find fascinating and mostly irrefutable



  30. Links 3/9/2014: Android Gadgets, New Tails OS

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts