back to article Microsoft sues GPS maker TomTom

Microsoft said it's suing GPS maker TomTom for patent infringement, claiming the Dutch manufacturer uses Redmond's technology but refuses to sit down for licensing talks. The lawsuit - which is a rare case of Microsoft going on the offensive in a patent spat - was filed today in US District Court for the Western District of …

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  1. Jolyon Ralph
    Gates Horns

    So....

    TomTom has something that Microsoft want, and they didn't want to share it.

    So here comes the punishment for not being nice to MS.

  2. kain preacher

    @Jolyon Ralph

    Were did you get that from ??? MS is saying that Tom Tom are using MS stuff. Did you read the Article ??

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    What does Tom Tom have?

    Rights are Rights.

    Failing to uphold rights on a formal or informal basis can only ever mean one thing to the rights holder: action.

    Now, to take this into a more meaningful sense as far as the UK goes.

    OS = Ordnance Survey = public asset.

    So why should the UK public be held to ransom over provisioning of a public asset via a third party?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mistaken

    There I was thinking TomTom was based on an "Open" platform (hence, the many 3rd party applications for it).

    How much of Ubuntu or, more relevantly, embedded linux, is subject to such patents?

    It's far easier in the US to patent software than in TomTom's Europe (Netherlands). Microsoft have very big wallets and can hire the best lawyers - expect TomTom to cave in by the end of March.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    It's possible

    It's possible TomTom is infringing. It's just as likely that it's more of those stupid patents the courts keep granting. Half of software patents seem to be the equivalent of patenting the colour red and then suing everyone who uses it.

    See http://www.psychochild.org/?p=540 for example...

  6. Lars Silver badge
    Gates Horns

    TomTom is based on Linux

    Soar grapes, TomTom is doing quite well.

    I am using a VDO Daytona that keeps crahing regularly, based on Windows CE. Even once experienced "The blue Screen Of Death" . I was really surprised. (Might not be blue). Has not done it since, but will freeze regularly using the TV option.

    The sound quality is realy bad, but of course, that must be becaus of VDO.

    Perhaps this has something to do with Microsoft still believing they own FAT.

    I will not use a navigator based on MS in the future, ever.

  7. Martin Silver badge

    @What does Tom Tom have?

    The first case is against them using microsofts 8,3 shortening of long names.

    They copy long filename upates into a FAT formatted SD card.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing to do with linux. Just a few very poor patents

    Microsoft's claims are basically:

    1. A PDA with icons

    2. a car computer.

    3. a car computer with a wireless connection.

    4. a program that gives you directions.

    5. The VFAT file system

    6. VFAT file system use on a Flash drive.

    This is unbelievably poor. It shows that

    (1) microsoft have no ideas worth a damn

    and

    (2) the patent system in America is fundamentally broken.

    The filing also points out the "fact" that microsoft has a long history of innovation (without giving any examples - the above aren't).

    And of course it doesn't fail to point out that the corporation they are attacking (despite having a US presence) are in fact from Europe, whereas they employ 20,000 people in Seattle.

    Cheap nasty, just shows microsoft hasn't learnt, hasn't moved on.

  9. Glen Turner

    It's an old campaign

    It looks like Microsoft are once again looking to "monetise" the MS-DOS FAT filesystem. Since it is used in cameras, GPSs, phones and god only knows what else it's a potential source of large revenue. Last time they tried this they got shot down by PubPat finding all sorts of prior art. This time they're trying to exploit a peculiarly-implemented feature of the filesystem -- long file names.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about the rest of us?

    Hey Microsoft, I use Linux, sue me too!

  11. David Kairns

    Thieves Sue Over "Theft"

    Well, MS should know more than anyone ALL about corporate theft.

    Their "poor me" bullshit is just more smoke screen PR crap to cover their dying butts.

  12. David Kairns
    Thumb Up

    Since MS Can't Innovate

    This is just one of their better "tech acquisition" methodologies. Works well too in this modern world of corporate criminality. Nuthin' new here at all.

    Great way to kill a company and "acquire" tech at the very same time.

  13. David Kairns

    Bingo -- Gamechange

    MS usually just steals tech outright. I guess they're adding a cute litte ol' lawsuit to help clean up their "image." What a joke.

  14. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Linux appears to infringe too (seriously)

    So from what I can tell from Google Patents (and IANAL!) the "FAT Long File Name (LFN) patent" basically covers the vfat & umsdos filesystems where they provide compatible-with-msdos longer-than-8-char filenames.

    Can anyone else confirm this?

    So yeah, I'm rooting for Tom-Tom here, especially since I think Garmin suck, and they're the only major competition.

  15. Mathew Jensterle
    Gates Horns

    Definitely possible

    Have you seen the patents in question? Just about every GPS maker would probably infringe at least part of Patent No. 7,054,745, "Method and System for generating Driving Directions", or Patent No. 7,117,286, "Portable Computing Device-integrated Appliance." I seriously can't believe that these patents were granted when they were. There must be prior art for almost all of the claims Microsoft are making. I'm not sure which ones have to do with embedded Linux, apart from, obviously, patent no. 6,256,642, "Method and System for File System Management Using a Flash-Erasable, Programmable, Read-only Memory" and the long file name one (aren't patent titles a bit long?). Why software patents? Why?

  16. James Woods

    when all else fails, sue for money

    Seems like what we're seeing here from the fallen giant microsoft. I've never seen so many MS commercials, they are slashing jobs, nobody cares about Vista so now they are going to try to earn money through the courts? Good job MS, keep up the work.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For a crushing IP victory...

    ...it's BillBill, not TomTom!

  18. P. Lee
    Linux

    What?

    They aren't using Windows? No matter, invoice them anyway! That's what we do with HP and Dell.

    I'm not sure how adding an index (~1, ~2) to allow the lookup of longer names can be anything other than obvious.

    Go TomTom!

  19. Corrine
    Thumb Up

    @Gene Cash

    Linux definitely infringes according to this filing. The FAT file-system pieces MS is claiming violates its patents are in the Linux software tom tom uses.

    On top of that, this looks to have been launched by a new VP. We'll see how well the OIN thing works I guess. TomTom losing would be very bad for Linux though.

  20. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Are any Microsoft patents valid?

    In May 2007, Microsoft claimed that Linux violated 235 of their patents. The response from the Linux community was "Tell us which ones". Microsoft has yet to reply.

    The most obvious reason for this is that all these patents should never have been granted. If Microsoft tries to push it, the Linux community will invalidate every single one. Microsoft would prefer to keep these bogus patents untested so they can still use them as an empty threat. A few medium sized companies will knuckle under out of ignorance. The smaller ones aren't worth chasing and the big ones can fight back.

    If Microsoft had an enforcible patent on FAT, digital cameras would switch to a different filesystem: there are dozens of open source ones available off the shelf. Some of them are explicitly designed for flash. Microsoft are not keen on that happening because FAT would promptly die out, and there would be no-one left to threaten.

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To any anti ms rants here..

    .. and i guess there are a few. You shouldn't be angry at MS, you should be angry at the stupid americans who decided software patents were ok, despite the patents agreement and big book of regulations SPECIFICALLY saying that software patents are not allowed.

    Thanks to the US patent office and no-one else this idiocy is allowed to continue (and is spreading with other patent offices thinking about it)

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @Gene Cash

    "I'm rooting for Tom-Tom here, especially since I think Garmin suck, and they're the only major competition"

    Garmin are from good ol' Kansas - they won't get sued (they'll have paid MS $1 so MS can claim others have acknowledged they have a valid patent and paid a royalty).

    The patents need looking into. Case Law is a concern - if TomTom lose, aspects of Linux (Ubuntu etc.) will be next.... who knows, Apple might even have a problem (though they can afford very expensive top law firms in the same league as Microsoft - unlike TomTom).

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Oh goody

    Microsoft making up for their lack of decent current products and freefalling sales figures by bullying smaller companies.

    I suppose if you're in real trouble, you'll take money from any source - even if it is beating up the little kids for their lunch money.

    Tomtom have a great product range, a great support mechanism and people ACTUALLY want to own their stuff! That's 0 for 3 for Microsoft.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Con Con vs Tom Tom

    or David and Goliath. Nuff said.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    All software patents shall be cancelled

    Software patents for sure stop the global innovation. Theoretically they may seem right but practical implementation failed. Some things that are registered with patents just look stupid.

    This action is the Microsoft's mistake. Waste of time, bad publicity. They can only loose on this. Looks like the company still not took the lesson and new huge trial (with huge final penalties) is necessary again, so that their legal will not have the time to choke smaller companies for the nonsenses like using the old fat filesystem.

    I am strongly against any actions that were done against Microsoft because they integrated programs into their OS (Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, etc.). Even Windows7 has too little of these integrations, such a modern OS still cannot play MKV files, copy CD or open ISO file, so I must install dozens of small programs from Internet and they create security problems. I want to have the usable computer after its is installed, more integrations are needed to achieve this.

    But if Microsoft now likes to sue then its OK for others to sue Microsoft. European Commission will also like to sue and then will get some billion from MS. Lets forget business and competition with better products (anyway no business due to economy), so lets go and sue all others, so that everyone will become rich after court decisions and this will push economy out of recession.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time for a filesystem change?

    Time for flash device using manufactures to use ext based filesystems.

    They can provide drivers or links to drivers for supporting ext under MS Windows:

    http://www.fs-driver.org/

  28. Richard Kay
    Unhappy

    Bad for US innovation and employment

    This lawsuit will only affect Tom Tom's US sales where US software patents apply. There is also a chance Tom Tom will fight it out and get support from manufacturers of similar products who also have something to gain if they can point to a precedent throwing these bogus patents out next time the Microsoft lawyers come knocking on their doors.

    It seems as if Microsoft executives are looking at bad sales trend figures and deciding they are having to go for higher risk strategies to boosting revenue if they are to avoid posting losses and their employee share-option pyramid collapsing.

    If Microsoft win or get something from an out of court settlement all this achieves, apart from making lawyers and Microsoft a bit richer and Tom Tom a bit poorer, is to make it more likely that research and development will occur outside of the US in future due to the higher costs of doing business there because of all the patent trolls that have to be paid off.

  29. Tony
    Thumb Down

    TomTom make the Global Positioning System?

    Picky I know, but I had to point it out. - There have been too many rubbish headlines on the Reg recently. It seems to be turning into a tabloid newspaper.

  30. Jeff Deacon
    Go

    Others have tried something similar

    Isn't this a straight pinch from the playbook of the corporation formerly known as SCO (or Caldera or something)? Perhaps they should be suing Microsoft for stealing their technology!

  31. Al Jones

    TomTom based on Open Source?

    Funny then that you can't get a copy of their source any more - they pulled it years ago.

    You'd think you Open Source fanbois would hate TomTom even more than MS, given Tom Toms history.

  32. Mike Gravgaard
    Joke

    Where do you want to go today?

    Answer: The courts to protect our IP of course!

    I hope Microsoft fail and their patents are made invalid (due to prior works).

    Mike

  33. James Butler

    Not to worry

    Nothing will be "won" or "lost" by this. TomTom will succumb and pay Microsoft some sort of licensing fee and we'll be on to the next. Linux will not be impacted and neither will any of the other navigational systems providers, except that they will see this and decide whether, for them, it is more cost-effective to pay MS a fee or to rework their FAT-based systems to use any other fs.

  34. Goat Jam

    @Jeff Deacon

    "Isn't this a straight pinch from the playbook of the corporation formerly known as SCO (or Caldera or something)? Perhaps they should be suing Microsoft for stealing their technology!"

    There's no need for that Jeff, SCO were using that tech under license.

  35. Charles Silver badge

    @Al Jones

    The kernel is open source, but their custom mapping software is closed (not only that, all their map data is probably copyrighted to another party and used under license) . This is allowed within the Linux system.

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