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Microsoft Sues TomTom

Gordon Kelly by

Microsoft Sues TomTom

Ok, so after all the flavours of Microsoft Windows news we have, wait for it... Microsoft legal news!

Here's the gist from Microsoft corporate VP and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing (most imposing job title ever?) Horacio Gutierrez:

"Microsoft has filed an action today in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington and in the International Trade Commission (ITC), against TomTom NV and TomTom Inc. for infringement of Microsoft patents. We have taken this action after attempting for more than a year to engage in licensing discussions with TomTom.

We have an established intellectual property licensing program, and the patents involved in this case, relating to innovations in car navigation technology and other computing functionality, have been licensed by many others. In situations such as this, when a reasonable business agreement cannot be reached, we have no choice but to pursue legal action to protect our innovations and our partners who license them. Other companies that utilize Microsoft patents have licensed and we are asking TomTom to do the same. TomTom is a highly respected and important company. We remain open to quickly resolving this situation with them through an IP licensing agreement."

In short it amazes me how this situation has arisen. It's not as if TomTom is secretive about making GPS based systems and you'd think - given its patent claims - Microsoft would've been watching it like a hawk since day one. Personally I suspect in these scenarios the strategy is to let a company become huge (particularly if you're not directly involved in the sector) then go after it for patent infringement as you'll potentially win far more and not put the target off using your technology early in its life.

Either that or I'm just feeling especially cynical today...


Microsoft Statement

Go to comments


February 26, 2009, 9:42 pm

You are such cynic Gords.

MS were just being helpful to a start-up by not burdening them with the costs of IP issues - as you know these laywers don't come cheap.

Must go I see a pig flying by.

mr dog

February 26, 2009, 11:01 pm

that is probably just steve balmer in his flying car


February 26, 2009, 11:19 pm

@ mr dog, I almost cried laughing so hard!


February 27, 2009, 12:39 am

what exactly is the lawsuit contesting? the GPS? the maps? or the hardware of it all?


February 27, 2009, 12:50 am

So what exactly are the infringements? What do other GPS companies license from MS?


February 27, 2009, 5:08 am

Comments on slashdot say at least one of the infringements is against Fat32. Since tomtoms write data to memory cards and such using fat32, and microsoft has various patents surrounding fat32.

Oh wait, here's the pdf of the complaint: http://media.techflash.com/doc...

Get this, they patented "Vehicle Computer System with Open Platform Architecture", "&#8220Method and System For Generating Driving Directions", "Methods and Arrangements for Interacting with Controllable

Objects within a Graphical User Interface Environment Using Various Input Mechanisms", "Portable Computing Device-integrated Appliance", "Vehicle Computer System with Wireless Internet Connectivity", "Common Name Space for Long and Short Filenames", "Method and System for File System Management Using a Flash-

Erasable, Programmable, Read-only Memory".

Um.... right.


February 27, 2009, 6:01 am

Who cares! Most patents are on shakey ground. What matters you can get the patent office to blieving you have a case.

In any case a business like Tom Tom will or should have as a practic checked out "prior art" to avoid such an eventuality.

Take the snowboard patent(s). Back in the 80s/90s I discovered a potential "prior art" - i.e already invented case. I didn't complain as it wasn't my issue. The inventor(s) no doubt did nicely. Then again those who paid the royalities could do what MS is doing and get a refund but they have to know what I know to invalidate the patent(s)first.

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