Feeds

Microsoft trades goodwill for TomTom Linux satisfaction

Skeptics' 'told-you-so' moment arrives

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Analysis It looks like Microsoft finally did it. It has filed a lawsuit over alleged infringement of its US patents by Linux and open source.

Today, the company filed suit against in-car, voice-activated navigation specialist TomTom NV and Tom Tom, Inc. And according to TechFlash, three of the eight patents Microsoft has contested relate to TomTom’s implementation of the Linux kernel. The other five relate to Microsoft’s own software. TomTom uses its own OS Linux, under GPL and LGPL.

Never mind that TomTom was running Windows and GPL code. It seems Microsoft took exception to the way TomTom had actually built its GPL’d Linux code.

Microsoft said it has turned to the courts having attempted to “engage in licensing discussions” with TomTom for “more than a year.”

In a clear sign of how much flak Microsoft knows it’s in for, Microsoft carefully steered clear of any mention of Linux in its press announcement of the action.

A statement from Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of intellectual property and licensing, made no mention of open source or Linux. He focused on IP.

Only later did Microsoft’s spokespeople mention open source, saying this was nothing personal against open source. According to a well-groomed statement on TechFlash and All About Microsoft:

“(O)pen source software is not the focal point of this action. The case against TomTom, a global commercial manufacturer and seller of proprietary embedded hardware devices, involves infringement of Microsoft patents by TomTom devices that employ both proprietary and open-source software code.”

Open source might not be the focal point, but that won’t matter to the open-source community. Further, this statement shows just how Microsoft thinks it can separate the world of IP statements from the world of its day-to-day dealings with open source — and just how wrong it is.

For those in the open-source community long skeptical of Microsoft’s increasing out reach, TomTom is their “told you so” moment.

Bradley Kuhn, Software Freedom Law Center policy analyst, told The Reg Wednesday evening: “It’s a good moment for people to take a step back and re-think how friendly Microsoft is to open source.”

To Kuhn, people should remember that whereas patents in software are antithetical to free and open source, they’re the bread and butter of Microsoft’s business model — a model that’s not changed.

Kuhn said he’s been “very troubled” by how much people in the free and open-source world have become accepting of Microsoft just because it’s given money to organizations like Apache Software Foundation (ASF), when just two years back chief executive Steve Ballmer threatened Linux over unspecified Microsoft patents in Linux and open source.

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Next page: Long Time Coming

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Windows XP still has 27 per cent market share on its deathbed
Windows 7 making some gains on XP Death Day
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
Red Hat to ship RHEL 7 release candidate with a taste of container tech
Grab 'near-final' version of next Enterprise Linux next week
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.