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TomTom Tells Microsoft To Get Lost

Another day, another Microsoft lawsuit. This time GPS solution provider TomTom is countersuing Microsoft over copyright infringements.

GPS copyright

The TomTom countersuit was filed March 16 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The company alleges that Microsoft infringed on four of its patents, using its navigation technology in Microsoft's Streets and Trips application.

The Amsterdam, Netherlands-based company's suit was in response to Microsoft's February lawsuit, which claimed that TomTom used technology from eight Microsoft patents involving car navigation technology.

In its court filing, Microsoft said that it was the patent owner of "Vehicle Computer System with Open Platform Architecture" that was issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Jan. 16, 2001.

Microsoft warned TomTom in a June 2008 filing that it believed the Dutch company was infringing on its patents, and was seeking a permanent injunction. However, Microsoft also said it was agreeable to "quickly resolving this situation with them through a licensing agreement."

Microsoft was close-mouthed in its public response to TomTom's countersuit.

"We are reviewing TomTom's filing, which we have just received," said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing, Microsoft, in a statement. "As has been the case for more than a year, we remain committed to a licensing solution, although we will continue to press ahead with the complaints we initiated in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington and the International Trade Commission."

The February suit brought by Microsoft said that TomTom was using part of its GPS technology that relied on the Linux OS.

That assertion raised eyebrows in the Linux community. For the past several years, Microsoft has claimed that it owns the patents to technology used in Linux. The open-source community has gone back and forth with the company, and recently Microsoft said it was willing to work out some kind of agreement with developers. Microsoft has said that the TomTom suit is not targeting open-source software.

Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, told developers to take a deep breath. Responding to Microsoft's February filing, Zemlin wrote a blog post titled, "Calm Down."

"We do not feel assumptions should be made about the scope or facts of this case and its inclusion, if any, of Linux-related technology," he wrote. "It is our sincere hope that Microsoft will realize that cases like these only burden the software industry and do not serve their customers' best interests. Instead of litigating, we believe customers prefer software companies to focus on building innovative products."

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