Microsoft comes out ahead in TomTom settlement

Microsoft announced today that the company has settled its lawsuit with TomTom, and on terms that look rather more favourable to Microsoft.

As noted here, here, and here on Neowin, Microsoft had sued TomTom for violating its patents, including those related to the "long file name" feature of VFAT. This particular aspect of the case was of particular concern to Linux-supporters, as the ability to create, read, and write to FAT and FAT32 partitions is possible with Linux, and so Microsoft's assertion of its patents associated with such features was taken as an attack on Linux.

TomTom counter-sued, claiming that Microsoft was in breach of four of its patents.

The settlement, which is good for five years, means that TomTom will pay Microsoft unspecified royalties for the use of its patents and will phase out over the course of the next two years the use of technologies covered by those patents. Part of the agreement between the two companies involves protecting TomTom's customers from the threat of lawsuits from Microsoft.

In addition to getting royalties from TomTom, Microsoft will not have to pay any money to TomTom for the use of its patents, and so it is fair to say that Microsoft has definitely come out ahead on this one.

Microsoft's silence on the possible ramifications of the lawsuit for users of Linux and the company's future intentions toward the open-source OS are not likely to be well received in the Linux community. TomTom, however, has reaffirmed its support of free software. According to Peter Spours, the company's Director of IP Strategy and Transactions, "This agreement puts an end to the litigation between our two companies. It is drafted in a way that ensures TomTom's full compliance with its obligations under the GPLv2, and thus reaffirms our commitment to the open source community."

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