Microsoft and TomTom, a maker of car navigation systems, today announced a settlement of their patent dispute which has broader interest because of Microsoft’s claims related to Linux:
Microsoft Corp. and TomTom N.V. today announced that they have settled the patent infringement cases brought by Microsoft before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington and the International Trade Commission (ITC) and by TomTom in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
The cases have been settled through a patent agreement under which TomTom will pay Microsoft for coverage under the eight car navigation and file management systems patents in the Microsoft case. Also as part of the agreement, Microsoft receives coverage under the four patents included in the TomTom countersuit. The agreement, which has a five-year term, does not require any payment by Microsoft to TomTom. It covers both past and future U.S. sales of the relevant products. The specific financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
The agreement includes patent coverage for Microsoft’s three file management systems patents provided in a manner that is fully compliant with TomTom’s obligations under the General Public License Version 2 (GPLv2). TomTom will remove from its products the functionality related to two file management system patents (the “FAT LFN patents”), which enables efficient naming, organizing, storing and accessing of file data. TomTom will remove this functionality within two years, and the agreement provides for coverage directly to TomTom’s end customers under these patents during that time.
While Microsoft has downplayed it in this case, those file management patents are the ones that raise the Linux infringement specter. The "open source community" will undoubtedly have a lot to say shortly much as they did over Microsoft’s Novell deal that Microsoft claimed recognized Linux infringement on their patents.