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Microsoft, TomTom Settle Patent Infringement Case

Microsoft and Dutch car GPS device maker TomTom have settled their patent infringement dispute, and Microsoft appears to have emerged victorious once again.

GPS

Microsoft earlier this month sued TomTom for allegedly infringing eight of its patents, including three file management systems patents related to TomTom's implementation of the Linux kernel. Under terms of the deal, TomTom will pay Microsoft an unspecified amount for coverage related to the eight patents, and will also drop its countersuit against Microsoft for violating four of its own navigation technology patents.

The agreement doesn't require Microsoft to make any payment to TomTom, the company said Monday in an announcement on its Web site.

The deal, which has a term of five years and lets TomTom fulfill its obligations under the General Public License Version 2 (GPLv2), will require TomTom to remove the functionality provided by the three file management systems patents within two years. Known as the FAT LFN patents, these patents are geared toward the efficient naming, organizing, storing and accessing of file data.

Microsoft has successfully sued many other companies whose products use a mix of proprietary and open-source code, including Samsung, LG Electronics, Fuji Xerox, Brother and Kyocera Mita. Although the TomTom case was seen by some industry watchers as possibly signaling Microsoft's intention to start enforcing its Linux related patents, the software giant denied that this was the case.

Nonetheless, the TomTom case attracted a considerable amount of attention in the open source community. TomTom joined the Open Invention Network, an organization dedicated to protecting Linux by acquiring and licensing open-source patents.

Formed in 2005 by IBM, Red Hat, Novell, Philips and Sony, the Open Invention Network seeks "to address problems that arise from patent trolls and industrial companies whose business models and behaviors are antagonistic to Linux and true innovation," according to a message on the organization's Web site.

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