back to article Microsoft trades goodwill for TomTom Linux satisfaction

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 …

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  1. jake Silver badge

    MS is floundering.

    "All these questions will play out against the backdrop of why Microsoft picked specifically on TomTom."

    How much cash does TomTom have on hand, and what's their market cap & share value? I honestly don't know, but my gut feeling is that they are the largest, most visible to consumers open source outfit, with the least cash and a small (probably shrunken dramatically, in this economy) market cap ... and thus the largest consumer-visible outfit that is least capable of defending itself. Win-win for MS lawyers ... Pick on 'em when they are down.

    On the other hand, aren't they a European outfit? Should prove interesting ...

  2. LaeMi Qian
    Boffin

    Interested to find out what the patents are

    I will be very interested to finally see what these patents are. If they are genuine innovations then good on them. But I will wager they will be the usual fluffy, generalised, obvious, long-used-before-the-patent-application stuff that seems to make up a large majority of modern patents, particularly in the US.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why is anyone even remotely surprised by this?

    Anyone that followed the whole SCO debacle, knew full well that SCO was supported by MS.

    Fighting through a proxy is the Microsoft way.

    Today they are going after Tom Tom.

    If they prove that patents have been infringed by Tom Tom, then, by proxy, they've proved that Open-Source is violating their IP, too.

    That will put the wind up anyone that is, or is planning on using some Linux/Open-Source software - unless they can afford the millions needed to hire an IP Lawyer...

    In short, the message is clear - use Windows, or get sued into oblivion.

  4. gjw

    They just waited for the right moment

    As Tom Tom seems to be in serious financial trouble they'll be willing enough to enter a settlement.

    There goes the last bit of sympathy I used to have for the Redmond behemoth.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    It had to happen. But in the long term will be good

    This one was coming. Nobody knew when, but everybody knew that at some point Microsoft was going to try this tactic for defeating competition.

    However, on the long term this will have the same benefits as the SCO case. Look, after SCO went bankrupt and lost the case in the process, nobody will even think of trying again that route.

    Same will happen with TomTom. Microsoft will lose, and in the process the damage to their reputation and the amount of counter filed lawsuits, not to mention invalidating absurd patents, will make them think back going this way.

  6. Periquet dels Palots
    Gates Horns

    With this timing, this is against Android

    Android is arriving, and it's going to wipe Microsoft out of the cellphone business. It will also kill any hopes it had for media boxes, and hurt Microsoft a lot in industrial computing (handheld terminals, SCADA systems, lab equipment, etcetera).

    The forces behind are titanic. Google, China Mobile, Vodafone, Telefónica, T-Mobile, Motorola, Samsung, LG, Toshiba, Sony... Their combined worth is A LOT of money. Microsoft cannot go against all them. By picking TomTom, it has been inexpensive for Microsoft to fire a resounding salvo against everybody that means to use Linux in their products. To me it reads as:

    "you might be giants with great technology, but I have plenty of tiny pebbles I can plant in your shoes to make your life miserable -- come to me, and all will be dandy".

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft sees weakness

    It's just a cover for a predatory attack. TomTom's loans have covenants. I guess that covenant requires their share price to be above some level. Tom Tom has always been the poster child for Linux, far outselling the competitors like the Mio Windows thing.

    Tom Tom said if things get worse it MAY break it's covenants. That was a few days ago.

    So Microsoft see an opportunity, attack Linux, force Tom tom to settle, not because Microsoft is right, but because TomTom needs to settle to protect itself. Then claim a right to Linux backed by the lawsuit and go on the attack.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/TomTom-reports-loss-warns-possible/story.aspx?guid={6436C106-6B89-41BD-A227-79B9E2A9909C}

    To me this says that Microsoft does not have any technical advantage, and therefore has to fall back to lawsuits.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are these patents valid?

    If the linked article is correct, one of these patents is the "8.3" specification. Surely is an old IBM specification?????

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Go the way of SCO

    Let's hope Microsoft goes the way of SCO.

    Microsoft have probably changed little from the early days they apparently put code in Windows to deliberately prevent other competing disk operating systems running below their window application. There have been many anti competitive legal actions againt many of Microsoft practices and this action by them is probably is just this. I think they are frightened because they could be losing their grip on the market. A grip I hope they lose.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    OPEN THE FLOOD GATES!

    .

    And let the outrage flow...

    I'll bet most of the patent infringements are stupid anyway, something akin to Microsoft holding the patent to show the colour red on the screen or something. Software patents - bah!

  11. Pete Silver badge

    why all the panic?

    Open source has been involved in lawsuits before. Anyone else remember the problems with the compression algorithm used by .GIF files? The key thing is that OSS is like a river and Microsoft is a rock. Drop a rock in a river and the water will just find another way past (it will also eventually erode the rock down to sludge).

  12. Neil Bauers
    Unhappy

    Bollux

    No more to add ...

  13. lIsRT
    Thumb Down

    Could be a smart choice on Microsoft's part.

    Ah, TomTom - a company that has Linux running on its devices, but is known for requiring the use of Windows or Mac OS to update them (I used a friend's for a while - this is the reason I didn't actually buy one for myself).

    This might confuse the issue by causing disgruntled Linux users to have a "TomTom? -- fuck 'em." attitude.

    It's not known how much useful support this would cost them, but I doubt it's irrelevant to Microsoft.

  14. Hugh_Pym
    Stop

    long time coming

    Microsoft have been looking for a credible case to back up its ridiculous IP infringement claims for so long now and this crock of **** is the best they can find?

    Still, win or loose doesn't matter for Microsoft because they are sending a clear message to those not using Windows for their devices 'Don't make us angry you won't like us when we are angry'.

    Most of these claims have been defeated before so it is unlikely that they will be upheld this time even in the US and certain that they will not be upheld in any other jurisdiction. So perhaps the American public will loose out to big business protectionism again. The land of the free - as long as it doesn't hurt certain individuals. When are the American people going to realise their corrupt and broken business law is costing them real money as well as personal freedom because they are constantly being told what to buy and from whom.

  15. Robert Jenkins
    Linux

    Microsoft are asking for trouble..

    I think Microsoft are wanting to keep the Open Source aspect low key for one simple reason.

    As soon the Linux / Open Source community feel they are under threat from Microsofts patents, Microsoft will find it's patent portfolio under scrutiny from millions of unhappy programmers and Open Source enthusiasts looking for flaws and prior art.

    Although that scrutiny will probably start with the ones relating to Linux, it's unlikely to stop there - Microsoft could well lose a significant percentage of it's patents.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I...

    I predict a balanced, informed and well argued discussion.

    Either that or

    Rabid, pig ignorant and stultifyingly ill informed.

  17. John Smith Gold badge
    Go

    Friends of Microsoft in the software community?

    Lets be realistic here.

    Microsoft sells most copies of its OS to PC mfgs. If no one buys a new machine they go out of business and so does MS. The makers come up with ever more powerful machines and MS ensures that you will need a more powerful machine to run it. It keeps them in line. Start talking too nice to Linux and your supply deal will have to be "Re-considered." Otherwise its everlasting love all round.

    Regarding software companies.

    Lets see.

    Companies that threaten it. Destroy them or disrupt them. How are Netscape and Lotus doing these days?

    Companies that supply it with products or improve its penetration. Buy out or destroy if they get uppity. Leave them alone as long as they know their place behind the curtain. The Foxpro development team and the suppliers of Defrag and Visual Basic understand this.

    Actual friends, as in successful ambitious software companies who work with them but are not threatened by them?

    But once they go to court it will be interesting to see what IP has been so grievously violated. The examples of USPO software patents I am aware of seemed like known state of the art. A copy of either of the books called "Fundamentals of Interactive Computer Graphics" or a look at the Xerox Alto should have throw a lot of them out.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    patent wars, the empire talks crap

    dun dun dun, dun der dun, dun der dun... (Death Star Motif)

    the evil empire feels threatened me thinks, hmmm.

  19. GreyCells
    Stop

    What a shame...

    ...that governments can't deal with playground bullies in the same way that head teachers and governors of schools can.

    Can't compete on the quality of your products? Then use your vast wealth and the courts to stop your competitors from progressing the art. What a fine moral example we are being shown yet again.

    Kuhn's statement is not completely accurate - patents have only recently become part of Microsoft's strategy (for anti-competitive reasons) - if there had been software patents around when Microsoft first started, then they would never haver gotten off the ground.

    When will the IT industry giants stop lying to us (and themselves)? Software patents do nothing to progress the art - history has proven that. Copyright works just fine.

  20. Ged
    Linux

    slashdot?

    A patent is what it is. It's rather unfair to tun a blind eye to patent infringment of companies just because they use open source software.

    Has Gavin Clarke been plucked directly from slashdot? These article reeks of a linux fanboy scent

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They've pulled the trigger

    The entire software industry's income now belongs to the legal profession.

  22. Goat Jam
    Linux

    It's about time

    Really, I've had enough of the phony niceness towards open source. It's about time that MS vs the rest of the world moved on to phase two.

    SCO was so long ago after all.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In conclusion

    Open-source community is a bunch of whiny kids.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    All your open source are belong to us

    All those trusting souls collaborating with Microsoft now are just laying down the foundations for this sort of thing in the future. Microsoft have a track record on devouring their collaborators that would embarass a black widow spider. Even Homer Simpson can tell you.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TOM2 is dirt cheap

    IMHO, (biased, I just bought some stock in them). Let me explain my thinking:

    If people don't buy cars they will spruce up the car they have. Satnav is the best sprucer since it also saves them petrol (by plotting more efficient routes).

    TomTom have the best product in GPS by far (happy customer of 2 of them).

    As late as Q3 2008 they were very profitable, i.e. they know to make a profit.

    Their share price is driven down over fears of a default on a loan covenant. I think this is rubbish because of the previous points.

    Their revenue is FOUR TIMES their total capitalization, if they made the same profit margins they achieved in 2008 Q3, they could buy their own company with their own profits in just over a year.

    I think this Microsoft attack is designed to drive their share price down enough to break their covenants, rather than a real lawsuit with chance of success. Microsoft car computer came late in the game and most likely TomTom would win any patent war (it holds a lot of US patents). and predates most of it's US rivals, so they could comfortably kill a lot of those CE devices in any war.

    Ultimately Microsoft did not have the first embedded OS, or the first real time one, not the first navigation computer or in fact any firsts in that market so this is smoke and mirrors.

    The timing, just after Tom Tom announce losses, confirms this to me.

  26. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Gates Horns

    Finally, Microsoft opens fire on the Westerplatte

    >> Microsoft said it's turned to the courts having attempted to "engage in licensing discussions" with TomTom for "more than a year."

    So why hasn't there been any mention of Microsoft's moves in the press/blogs? What is the advantage to TomTom of hiding the fact that Microsoft tries to extract a bit of protection money? One might have started looking for some prior art. Of course, they could have fallen for the old SCO trick of "we will show you but you will have to sign an NDA first".

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Nov-Hell deal leads to you deserve it!

    Deal with the devil and the devil comes swinging. Microsoft a company with over 10,000+ patents over its history, and a history of hitting the smaller distro companies first into patent agreement deals or worse and only 8 patents of that huge portfolio at dispute... hmm wonder which ones :-)

  28. Caffeine Junkie
    Coat

    Does this really mean MS is anti open source?

    I don't know the merits of the case so I'm not going to say Microsoft should win or lose this case but thats not the point.

    The open source community seem to think that the phrase "Open Source" is a sheild making them immune to IP laws. Never mind the fact that TOMTOM inc. make loads of money from selling these devices.

    Open source does not absolve people from IP laws and does not give you free reign to steal other peoples ideas.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Take a step back?

    "It's a good moment for people to take a step back and re-think how friendly Microsoft is to open source."

    Yeah, this will come as a great shock to everyone....

    But its brave of TomTom to tell MS where to go I suppose.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    I told you so...

    Time to drop any Mono/Silverlight/MSFT tainted projects. Or wait until they try to assert software patents on those too. It's up to you.

    Me, I use KDE as a desktop and make sure no mono* libs enter my PCs. And even a binary flash player is better than a open sourced patent tainted retarded brother of MSFT media player.

  31. Tom Chiverton

    Crap.

    Looking at the PDF, they appear to be going after the file sytem.

    If this doesn't go to caught and then get thrown out, it'll be digital camera makers next...

  32. POPE Mad Mitch
    Flame

    more proof that patents hurt fair competition

    On the one hand, you get the EU and others forcing microsoft to document its APIs and Protocols to allow interoperability, and then there is the various exclusions in bits of copyright law to allow reverse engineering for interoperability purposes. all these attempts to make fair competition happen.

    then on the other hand, patents blow it all away, because even if you manage to implement your own version of one of them, they slap you down with a patent on it. so no matter which way around, any form of competition has to pay them.

    as such patents like this clearly harm fair competition and innovation and should be abolished.

  33. TJ
    Stop

    TomTom on Windows Mobile OK then?

    The title says it all.

    It isn't clear from reading Microsoft's complaint that this is aimed just at TomTom's Linux-device business. It looks more like an attempt to taint the TomTom brand.

    It'll be interesting to see if Microsoft can be made to clarify if this also applies to TomTom Navigator on Windows CE/Mobile devices... can El Reg chase the Microsoft PR/legal types?

    In the early days TomTom was just a Windows Mobile application but rampant piracy and the move to discrete GPS devices led to the dedicated Linux-based devices. Since then TomTom has grown massively and gobbled up TeleAtlas. They also bought up a large number of patents from Horizon Navigation in 2007 that are important for portable navigation devices.

    I think this is more of a cynical business move by Microsoft to cast some doubt on TomTom whilst Microsoft is pushing "Windows Embedded NavReady 2009" - I suspect getting hardware vendors to adopt Windows Mobile is proving an uphill struggle.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/06/17/windows_navready/

    http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2008/jun08/06-16WENavReadyPR.mspx

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsembedded/en-us/devices/real-world/navready.mspx

    I suspect we'll be seeing a counter-claim from TomTom based on those patents it holds.

  34. Snake Plissken

    Sigh...

    Just when you think they have learned their lesson, Microsoft load up the shotgun and aim it at their feet.

    Wonder if the state of the economy has given the idiot lawyers the opportunity to go "Look! Free money!" without ever wondering about the consequences.

  35. John Sanders
    Paris Hilton

    MS back to what does well

    1) Distracting Manoeuvres while they observe the enemy

    2) Find a weak spot, apply pressure

    3) Embrace

    4) Extend

    5) KILL!, KILL! KILL!

    6) FINISH HIM!

    8) FATALITY!

    9) If it doesn´t work goto 1) if does goto 10)

    10) Fallout profit.

    Paris, because she knows something the IT world doesn´t: MS is the pimp of the industry, and treat the rest of the IT landscape like the w****s.

  36. Daniel Palmer

    What a monkey

    "Microsoft followed up telling Forbes that Linux and open source violated 235 patents: 42 in the Linux kernel,"

    Fair enough... there's nothing that MS has that doesn't have prior art though.... so they'd be really hard pushed to make any of it stick. Lets not forget a lot of "Linux" work is not done in the US and in countries that these sorts of patents aren't valid.

    "Linux graphical user interfaces violated 65,"

    As far as I'm aware .... there is no such thing. Oh, you mean desktop environments that run on top of some X implementation. So why not sue Sun?... Apple ship some sort of X11 these days too don't they?

    "Open Office 45, various free/open e-mail programs violated another 15,"

    Again, Open Office isn't "Linux". You can run openoffice on Windows. And again the people that would have infringed any patents would be Sun. That's if any of the patents could stand up in court, because again, there's a ton of prior art out there.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some of the patents too low level?

    Here are the 2 complaint PDFs:

    http://media.techflash.com/documents/tomtomComplaint.pdf

    http://media.techflash.com/documents/tomtomitc.pdf

    IMO some of these patents are so low level/necessary/obvious, they shouldn't be allowed.

    e.g. Patent 642 - "describes a file system that supports the byte-addressable and block-erasable nature of flash memory, while providing support for a file system offering the functionality of traditional file systems."

    How else are you to run ANY OS on a flash device?

    Does this mean SSD controllers that emulate HDD controllers are infringing?

    If so, a lot of mileage there.

  38. nicholas22
    Gates Horns

    How very ...expected

    These are their true colours...

  39. dervheid
    Gates Horns

    The resumption of hostilities...

    on their road to 'World Domination'.

    Pick a (relatively) small target and await outcome, whilst fattening up the patent trolls.

    'Gates' icons now need changed to Ballmer icons.

  40. al
    Paris Hilton

    MS wants a legal precedence here...

    At the moment it just has a low profile; well obscured case against a nobody (whose execs/lawyers are probably already on Vole's dole). Once Vole wins it; it will have a legal precedence to wave when it goes after bigger threats to Volish bijness.

    Paris, coz you might need a navigation system - while trading private stuff with here.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Lowering the TCO

    Cost of Linux license: £0

    Cost of defending baseless law-suits: £10,000,000 and rising

    Cost of Windows license: £49 (or less) per unit

    Cost of defending baseless law-suits: £0

    So, on those prices and for 200,000 units, Windows offers lower TCO. Read it and weep, freetards. Windows is cheaper! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

  42. Eponymous Cowherd

    Why TomTom

    ***"All these questions will play out against the backdrop of why Microsoft picked specifically on TomTom."***

    I would guess its because they are confident of a favourable ruling on the GPS / navigation patents and they hope they can carry the alleged Linux violations through on the back of them, giving them a precedent if and when they sue others who use embedded Linux.

    Mind you, a Microsoft vs BT dust-up over the Linux based HomeHub would be fun to watch.

  43. hj

    question

    Since TomTom is a Dutch company, does this mean that the case will go to the Dutch court? Have good faith in our justice system, just less in the technical understanding of the judges...

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fundamental flash & removable media patents

    The technology covered by patents 517 and 352 is VFAT, which is required for any device that stores files on removable media.

    The technology covered by patent 642 is required for any device that stores files on internal flash memory.

    So these are basic patents required for almost every portable device from every OEM. This should be fun.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Lowering the TCO

    "So, on those prices and for 200,000 units, Windows offers lower TCO. Read it and weep, freetards. Windows is cheaper! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!"

    Ahh, but you are forgetting the PROFIT from a counter 'Tortuous Interference in Business' lawsuit. The SCO email for example, where it became clear that Microsoft was funding SCO's anti Linux lawsuit could form the basis.

    So, say it's the same as the $700 million (?) over the Netscape thing, that would mean you'd make oodles of profit from counter suing Microsoft. Plus you get the inbuilt advantage, in that Microsoft is viewed as a serial anti-trust violator, so in any court case, they really are at an incredible disadvantage. The assumption at the back of people's minds is that they are lying.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCO-Linux_controversies

    Read it an weep MSFT shareholders, because now it will be far easier for people who suffered from SCO's lawsuit to now point to MSFT's new lawsuit and link the two, to make MSFT liable as though SCO was just a front for MSFT.

  46. A M Street
    Linux

    @AC re. It had to happen. But in the long term will be good

    No, I think that this will reinforce the reputation that MS has.

    I'm not sure who are more stupid, the fools that think up these stunts or the fools who buy into the rubbish spouted by MS about wanting to play nice with FLOSS.

    As for those who actually by MS products, well, as Lincoln said "you can fool some of the people all the time..."

    Bah!

  47. Roger Heathcote
    Alert

    I've just got through reading one of the 2 PDFs and...

    I have summarized the 5 infringement claims sent to the US ITC below and assigned each a novelty score to reflect how novel/obvious each of these innovations might be to any marginally competent nerd...

    They are, to my mind and as you might suspect, utterly nebulous. I can only imagine the other 3 are equally lame. The Judge should kick their asses back to Redmond and void these ludicrous "patents".

    Roger Heathcote.

    -------------------

    US Patent 6175789 "Vehicle Computer System with Open Platform Architecture" January 16, 2001.

    Violates at least claim: 1 and 16

    In essence: Microsoft in 2001 invented the idea that subsystems of a product (in this case a car) should be able to talk to one another.

    Novelty score: 0/10

    US Patent 7054745 "Method and System For Generating Driving Directions" May 30, 2006.

    Violates at least claim: 1

    In essence: Microsoft in 2006 invented human friendly driving directions by...

    a) Concatenating close instructions together

    b) Saying less words if instructions are close together

    c) Not making as many mistakes as every previous system

    Novely score: 1/10

    US Patent 5579517 "Common Name Space for Long and Short Filenames" November 26, 1996.

    Violates at least claim: 1,2, 3, 4, 22, 26, 31, 36

    In essence: Microsoft in 1996, in order to get round the short name / long name problem created by Microsoft's fat-16, "invented" with fat-32 the notion of just tacking the long ones onto the end of the directory table and sequentially numbering the clashes in the shorter namespace.

    Novelty score: 0/10

    US Patent 5758352 "Common Name Space for Long and Short Filenames," May 26, 1998.

    Violates at least claim: 1, 12

    In essence: As above.

    Novelty score: 0/10

    US Patent 6256642 "Method and System for File System Management Using a Flash-Erasable, Programmable, Read-only Memory" July 3, 2001

    Violates at least claim: 4

    In essence Microsoft in 2001 invented the idea of making raw flash memory's ABI look like normal memory's ABI by swapping blocks around behind the scenes with "compaction-threads"

    Novelty score: 2/10

    ----------------------------

    If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete stand-still today. The solution ... is patenting as much as we can. ... A future start-up with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose. That price might be high: Established companies have an interest in excluding future competitors.

    --Bill Gates

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    This seems fine to me

    To be fair you can't blame Microsoft for protecting their own IP.

    If someone copied something I'd invented and started giving it away free I'd be a bit annoyed - Microsoft are lucky enough that they have enough money to go to the courts and stop the theft.

    Good luck to them I say, and maybe this will help stop future stealing from the open source shareware types.

  49. fishman

    Microsoft and the EU

    It will be interesting to see if the EU decides to play even tougher on Windows due to this lawsuit.

  50. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Linux

    How many more?

    WIll microsoft go after industrial robot builders next?

    Because my ones run a Linux kernel, with X-windows for display and a closed source program for actually running the control program and axis drives

    Previously , they used to run on a windows2000 system until the builders(german btw) decided to save a shedfull of cash by using Linux instead

    (and yes you can get all the source code they used/modified for X windows and the kernel.... but wont hand out the source for the rest )

  51. Mark

    That reminds me

    How are Microsoft's outstanding fines with the EU coming along? They wouldn't be in need of a bit of cashflow for some Government payments would they?

    On the subject of the FAT filesytem, didn't they encourage it's use license free and hence invalidate claims?

    From a 2003 article on dpreview.com...

    http://www.dpreview.com/news/0312/03120403microsoftisfat.asp

    "Microsoft will soon be charging manufacturers of flash memory card devices and those which use them $0.25 per unit or up to $250,000 to use the FAT filesystem."

    "Microsoft owns patents to the FAT File System but for many years hasn't even hinted that it may one day decide to charge for it."

    I wonder how the law stands on this as I'm guessing it's not been tested in court i.e. not charging, encouraging usage, then whacking on a fee?

    Given the cap on fees, TomTom must be pretty sure of it's case.

  52. John Imrie
    Happy

    @Roger Heathcote

    Re; US Patent 5579517 "Common Name Space for Long and Short Filenames" November 26, 1996.

    I think your novelty score is to low. No one in their right mind would have come up with M$'s brain dead way of 'fixing' FAT-16

    PS http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/djf500/200902260425DOWJONESDJONLINE000552_FORTUNE5.htm

    TomTom Rejects Microsoft's Patent Infringement Claims :-)

  53. Greg
    Alert

    They start with the words “A Method” Pleaseee

    I had a quick look at the patents jeez they give patents for that!

    They start with the words “A Method” bit of a giveaway there any patent that use the M word should be struck down with a bolt of lightning and the company have all patents stripped from them.

    A method for running a computer in a car – now why would anyone give a patent for anything so obvious, its like patenting what may happen next! you don’t know but you can patent 10 guesses pleaseee.

    This isn’t about Linux either TomTom don’t give monkeys about open source this is all about MS trying to force leverage in the mobile market, TomTom don’t use windows mobile, don’t have a windows browser on their app and don’t use M/S stuff apart from the PC link.

    I would quote on the FAT ones but that goes from stating the bleeding obvious to filing the bleeding obvious, and anyway the USPTO have already thrown out the main fat32 patent as being even too obvious for them this lot is the remnants that haven’t been challenged yet.

    So to sum up smacks of protectionism looks like racketeering

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    This seems fine to me ... does it really?

    @AC

    The patents that MS are claiming TomTom have infringed are the usual loosely written crap we've come to expect from US Software Patents. Have you read any of them or are you just a Microsoft shill?

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    "I love the smell of napalm in the morning!"

    The first shots of the war have been made!

    Vive revolution! Vive freedom!

  56. Roger Heathcote
    Linux

    Proprietard trolls...

    "If someone copied something I'd invented and started giving it away free I'd be a bit annoyed - Microsoft are lucky enough that they have enough money to go to the courts and stop the theft."

    Invented is quite a strong term isn't it, they implemented some of this stuff and therefore are entitled to copyright protection but invented??? Balls.

    Patents are there to protect the novel & non-obvious fruits of R&D investment.

    There's nothing novel or non-obvious about any of these patents AKAICS and Microsoft have innovated almost nothing novel or useful* in the last decade, they are resting on their laurels content to become the worlds largest patent trolls, buying up huge swaths of companies and intellectual "property" and suing anyone who dares to make so much as a mouse without coughing up some fees like some feudal baron.

    Linux on the other hand has innovated a boat load of useful things and has been a prime mover powering the internet for over a decade and being responsible for the massive increase in the availability of cheap powerful gadgetry we've all been enjoying for the last 5...

    $20 XVid enabled DVD player anyone?

    "Good luck to them I say, and maybe this will help stop future stealing from the open source shareware types."

    Fuck them. Copying an idea is not stealing, if it were then M$ wouldn't have been shut down decades ago coz everything they built their business on was done by someone else first. Care to list some of the things they invented? Oh, that's right, you can't.

    If you don't want anyone to use _your_ ideas then take them to the grave, the world is not short of ideas and never will be so we really don't need yours.

    Roger Heathcote.

    *.NET excepted, and even that concept was obvious to a lot of programmers for a long time, as somebody says there's not much that wasn't done first at xerox parc >25 years ago.

  57. Adair Silver badge
    Linux

    Go your own way...

    Surely the whole philosophical and ethical point of GNU/Linux and OSS generally is to be able to operate free of the Windows world and Microsoft hegemony. Those who seem to want Linux/OSS to be the next 'Windows', i.e. replace it, are missing the point as far as I'm concerned. Let M'soft, and all those content to use Windows, go their own sweet way. There is no reason for those who are not in thrall to that world to take any notice of them, unless they are being chased by the legal fraternity of course---bastards.

  58. Michael Strorm

    @Anonymous "This seems fine to me"

    "To be fair you can't blame Microsoft for protecting their own IP. If someone copied something I'd invented and started giving it away free I'd be a bit annoyed."

    Microsoft's domination of the PC market was founded on a product (QDOS, ported to the PC as MS-DOS) that was at best an intentional mimic of the older CP/M operating system and at worst a direct rip-off of it.

    Bill Gates didn't invent BASIC either, as some people seem to believe.

  59. Shonko Kid
    Gates Horns

    I'm reminded of those nature programmes...

    Where the alpha male was old and injured, he would often look docile and on his last legs, but would occasionally lash out at anything it could reach, sensing that the end was near...

    Hey Ballmer! Say hi to the dinosaurs for me, will ya?!

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    All Open Source projects/companies

    should send ALL of their source code to Redmond and the US patent office asking that Microsoft can identify and prove where they violate any Microsoft patent so the the code can be changed.

    It would only seem to be reasonable that Microsoft should be able to review ALL of this source code, exhaustively, and be able to prove that they had patented whatever process/thought/idea before it came into use in Open Source. Of course, any patent that they can't prove in such a manner should be removed and whoever granted the patent should be fired and maybe sued.

    The US patent office is going to have to start taking responsibility for its negligent actions in regards to granting patents on the obvious or already established/in use processes or ideas.

    Devil Bill, shurely no explanation is required.

  61. The Badger
    Flame

    Re: Does this really mean MS is anti open source? / This seems fine to me

    "Open source does not absolve people from IP laws and does not give you free reign to steal other peoples ideas."

    You can't monopolize ideas, at least in any ethical regulatory environment. Waving around terms like "IP" just makes you look like someone who doesn't know what they are talking about. That, or someone who wants to misrepresent the situation: open source is built on functioning copyright law. Less of the caffeine and more of a clue for you, I think.

    "To be fair you can't blame Microsoft for protecting their own IP."

    "IP" is a nonsense. What are you actually referring to? Ideas? Algorithms? You can't patent either in most places and nor should you be able to.

    "If someone copied something I'd invented and started giving it away free I'd be a bit annoyed - Microsoft are lucky enough that they have enough money to go to the courts and stop the theft."

    Yes, the patent system is for the rich monopolists, despite what the stooges and lobbyists would have you believe.

    "Good luck to them I say, and maybe this will help stop future stealing from the open source shareware types."

    Open source is not shareware. Go back to the 1980s and clue up on everything that's happened since then, fool!

  62. David Hicks
    Gates Horns

    Can you say "anti-trust"

    Or monopoly?

    (v)FAT is now a standard filesystem allowing devices like digital cameras, consoles, computers, mobile phones... basically anything to use the same media, usually flash media.

    Whilst a free (unencumbered by patents, copyright, trade secrets etc) FS would be better - anyone could implement for no fee - that's not where we are now. FAT is well documented and widely supported precisely because these things need to be read and written by Microsoft's operating systems. The OS monopoly once again forced vendors onto another MS system.

    Given that Microsoft have been repeatedly slapped down by the EU courts, I would expect that the moment they try this on the EU will bitchslap them again. Mighty hard.

    Convicted monopolists should not be able to blackmail companies into paying them because the monopoly forced them to take a particular course of action. Patent or no patent, MS is saying that they'll have their pound of flesh or nobody gets to play.

    Besides which, one of the patents covers the method of linking/displaying a long filename when the FS underneath uses 8.3 format (i.e. the tech they brought in to pretend to use long filenames under Win95). They have a patent on a hackish workaround to an inadequate FS to make it more like the better ones that predate it?

    They're 'avin a laugh!

  63. Tam Lin

    So don't DriveDrive in Zimbabwe, Somalia or the US

    So far, software patents are only useful in third world countries with corrupt legal systems.

  64. InsaneGeek
    Stop

    Comeon peopel you really don't think this way do you? Reality check

    I am a heavy linux/unix user (both at work and at home), but look at the number of times MS is sued yearly over patents; and look how many *hundreds* of millions of dollars they have been fined over the years due to those patents. They have a whole army of people just trying to find patents in the system; but for some reason a bunch of people think that there is no patent infringement in Linux (kernel and userspace).

    The fact of reality is that common logic (unless you are wearing blinders) would have to suggest that there are a relatively large quantity of patent infringement in Linux. Look at Linux over the years... I'd say out of any OS out there is copies the most from all the other OS's (heck probably all the other main ones combied)... before you jump all over me, from a user like me that's a good thing since normally it's copying the good things (only zealots and fanboys claim the "yeah be <foo> OS did it first", really they did it first tell me why I should care? So let's get over this stupid notion that Linux (or any other OS) doesn't infringe on a large number of patents and get into reality.

  65. Ken Hagan Gold badge
    Jobs Horns

    Hoisted by their own petard

    A reasonable defence in a patent case is that the algorithm in question is the only way to do it. Microsoft's 8.3 name scheme is therefore the only way TomTom can run their flash so that some rather decrepit software called Windows can talk to it. If Microsoft were to build support into Windows for a variety of decent file systems, I'm sure everyone would happily drop VFAT.

    But they haven't, so we have to do it their way.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    MS vs IBM with Groklaw as proxy again?

    Only difference is that this time instead of SCO vs Novell, it will be MS vs TomTom.

    Didn't MS learn their lesson on this one last time? Especially with Novell to feed IBM insider information about where to look for the patent violations...

  67. Toastan Buttar
    Gates Halo

    Microsoft and BASIC

    "Bill Gates didn't invent BASIC either, as some people seem to believe."

    No, but Gates and Allen pulled off a really impressive stunt by writing a fully operational BASIC interpreter for the Altair without actually having access to the machine itself.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altair_BASIC

    If you were around at the birth of the home computing boom, you'd know that being able to run genuine Microsoft BASIC on your machine was a big bonus, and in some cases a deciding factor in which system you purchased.

  68. Wolf
    Thumb Down

    @Badger

    "You can't monopolize ideas, at least in any ethical regulatory environment."

    Um, yes you can. It's called a "patent". And while I don't believe in method/software patents (while being a staunch defender of copyright) it *is* the law in the US--and Tom Tom sells in the US.

    Sort of the mirror of the EU antitrust thing. MS sells in Europe, so has to dance to the EU bureaucrats.

  69. Wolf

    @David Hicks

    "(v)FAT is now a standard filesystem allowing devices like digital cameras, consoles, computers, mobile phones... basically anything to use the same media, usually flash media."

    True. However the ECMA/ISO/IEC standard does NOT include long file names, it uses 8.3 name format only.

    The patent concerns the long filename extension. Which TomTom uses, right?

    A nit, perhaps, but then lawsuits are all about nits.

  70. easyk

    That reminds me...

    I was going to buy one of them there Tom Tom thingys. Now would be a good time.

  71. Pierre

    Ha, US patents. The worst shit ever

    I'm hereby patenting the "expression of personnal opinion by the mean of a message of 200 characters". Seriously, time to nuke this awful system guys. Try not to behave as a retarded country for once.

  72. Alexander

    it has all happened before

    No surprises here, well maybe one how long it took MS to jump on the IP band wagon. it really is a grey area and always has been, i remember back in the old days When The BBS was the comunication means the carry on that went on with winace and winzip.

    winzip first incarnation was just blatently ripped from the code of winace, and when winace took the matter to a legal level, the hate campiagn that ensude against winace was disgraceful , threating phone calls , nasty mails all aimed at the corporate greed of winace . when in fact it was just a husband and wife outfit working from home who had been ripped off by a drunk friend with no scrupuls.

    So it is fair to defend ones own work, but the IP crap of the last decade is ridiculus with whole companies set up to defend IP and patents that have bought rather than actaully producing or offering any services. and american law is absolutely bonkers they have a habit of forgetting america is a country and not the world.

    Open source like linux will be a target for not just MS but Numerous companies that think they can make a case......my only problem here is who do you sue who is the originator of copyright or IP infringement when your dealing with a community of developers rather than an organisation , but the bigger companies like red hat( who have already been bit by ms) and unbuntu the more they try to make cash from linux the more others will turn the screws , a good analagy is Game modifactions sure your can mod the software to your hearts content but try to make a bit of cash from the mod and your in trouble and the same goes with IP, lawyers sit on the side lines watching the open soruce community waiting for people like shuttleworth to cash in on linux so they can cash in on them, and that is probably why Nasty Big guys like MS have been sitting waiting for the right time to draw blood.

    No point chasing down a poor man or a company with no profits,I Should have been an IP lawyer now there is a growing market.

  73. The Badger
    Flame

    Re: @Badger

    I wrote, "You can't monopolize ideas, at least in any ethical regulatory environment."

    Wolf writes, "Um, yes you can. It's called a "patent"."

    Um, traditional patents are not protections on mere ideas. You should read up on the history of patents before assuming that the desired situation of various corporations and industries is identical to the rationale for having patents in the first place.

    Whether patent offices have granted patents for ideas and had them recognised by the courts is another matter: that of the regulatory environment being ethical or not, as I wrote. The US has been able to threaten other nations with a big stick if those nations don't respect their absurd "IP" regime. Alongside the "I thought of this trivial extension of current practice first - it's all mine!" attitudes that the regime promotes, I don't regard intimidation of other nations as ethical, either.

    Argue the toss about current US practice if you want, although it would be laughable to suggest that anyone should hold such practice up as an ideal. There are a number of people who want to see the regime changed significantly, and the rest of the world should consider putting its foot down on such matters, too.

  74. John Savard Silver badge

    Filesystems

    The problem isn't that Microsoft shouldn't have the right to defend its intellectual property.

    However, people installing Linux in a second partition should be able to access files - with their long names - in their Windows partition, because not being able to do so would be anticompetitive.

    So the solution is clear. Require Microsoft to cease and desist selling copies of Windows that don't allow you to choose to use a non-proprietary filesystem instead of FAT32 or NTFS. Since there are non-proprietary filesystems that allow equivalent functionality, this would not impose undue hardship on Microsoft.

  75. Mage Silver badge
    Flame

    BASIC

    Dartmouth College should sue MS for stealing BASIC

    ETH Zurich/Logitech and Xerox sue MS for the Mouse

    Xerox sue MS for Windows

    Bell Labs sue them for adding subdirectories and UNIX like commands

    Digital Research/Novell/Caldera sue them for MSDOS and Filesystem.

    IBM and DEC (now most IP owned by HP) for making NT out of VMS and OS/2

    Mosiac for messing up the Browser

    Bell Labs and Sun for Mashing Up C, C++ and Java as C#

    Borland for pinching ideas from Turbo Pascal for VB6

    Xerox sue them for having Networking.

    I saw touch screen systems and multiprocessing 20 years ago.

    All the decent stuff they have they copied or bought the Company or Rights

    SQL, Visio.

    The only two really good original programs MS have done are Excel & Word (for Windows, not DOS), ironically first launced on Apple as MS Windows on DOS didn't really work till version 3.x

    MS needs to throw away WinCE/Mo and NT/Vista/Win7 as they have trashed them. Spend the money on rewriting them properly from scratch.

  76. Tom Silver badge

    They konw they are going to loose - this must be to scare others

    These are 'software patents - after Bilski they will be thrown out. The only thing they can be hoping for is that they scare enough customers to buy from them to cover the cost of the failing law suit.

    Works for the mafia, but failing for the RIAA

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Reason?

    I think we lost that somewhere over the last century...

    Ok, I get that you want to patent a steam engine and then produce and sell them in order to make a living. I think that is reasonable.

    But microsoft is not doing anything with these patents... IMHO this is just an unreasonable and disproportionate action. And has nothing to do with the principle on which patents were based once.

    It is fair to protect your inventions but this somehow feels just so unfair.

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where is Tom Toms GPLed code?

    Where can I download a copy of TomToms modified Linux? Or do they use a "special" version of the GPL?

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    short selling

    Own a lot of shares?

    Lost a lot of value on them recently?

    Own a lot of patents?

    1. Short a companies stock

    2. Sue them for multiple patent infringement

    3. Profit!

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Patent 517 is invalid

    Excuse me, but wasn't 517 revoked/invalidated years ago? So MS is attacking with revoked patents now as their wool over eyes tactic?

    How many years has MS have Balmer rattling his little saber up in front of people about the hundreds of patent violations and growing each time effect about Linux and now that they come to act we find out it's all about VFat including an nvalidated patent on it?

    Paris because she's go totaly clueless about all this too.

  81. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Boffin

    Misleading headline

    Patents have so far not really been Microsoft's bread and butter. With a near monopoly on the personal computer systems stack they haven't needed to worry about them. In fact they have done very well with their embrace and extend stance, albeit fighting in court to defend this if necessary (Windows 3.1 springs to mind). IBM is the real patent shop and we all know what the folks down at Cupertino are like. So Microsoft isn't really taking on Open Source per se. In fact it still supports various Open Source projects in one way or another.

    The patent issue does need to be clarified in law and it will be interesting to see how taking on a European company may affect this.

  82. Julian

    Extinguish or take over

    Having read the article and all the comments, the most likely scenario is that Microsoft wish to bring Tom Tom to its knees, because Tom Tom is vulnerable just now, and then take over the company. Plenty of precedent for Microsoft absorbing other people's products into the Microsoft family.

    So it's not a Linux thing! Just as Microsoft said.

  83. Graham
    Linux

    This is going to be cool...

    This can only be good.

    MS crown starting to slip:

    Laying people off.

    Share price dropping.

    Vista.

    and now this!!

    B R I N G I T O N!!

    If you ever thought of a good reason to buy a TomTom this is it!

    Just go and buy one even if you are like six or something, just to see TomTom stick it to the Maaan.

    I'm going to empty Halfords in a minute.

    Come on Mark buy the company.

    Get the Linux Foundation selling shares.

    Anything just to get Microsoft right in the 'nads.

    Have you ever had a PC crash or had a virus which you know should have been patched years ago!

    All that work just gone poof!

    Sink that damn ship in one.

    --

    I feel much better now.

  84. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    It really is in linux best interest...

    to sort this out amicably - as amicably as possible.

    While ever one of the biggest players in software solution procurement has a case to protect its rights then linux seems to be on very dodgy ground.

    Imagine a data centre going linux only to find a partial ruling that rights have been transgressed. What happens at said data centre? Meltdown?

    It would appear to take no more than one infringement to meltdown linux?

    Besides, if the open source community seeks maturity it will also have to learn to handle rights issues with responsibility and respect. If not for the open source contributors themselves then certainly for those who may wish to incorporate linux into a commercial environment.

    I can see sufficient doubt in the posts above that would prevent UK government bodies (eg local authorities) to steer well clear of linux until the above is resolved. Not in an inflamed rabid passion fashion but in a way that will make organizations keen on linux to use it without compromise or possible compromise.

    As someone once said: it is always the right time to do the right thing?

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    hmm?

    @ Mage 16:32

    WinCE? Not good?

    It seems to do rather well in BT Vision. Best UI I have ever used as far as tele goes and the functionality is sweet.

    One oversight, to me anyway, is that a remote operated UI really should allow jumps and rotation (from start to end of list OR from end to start of list).

    I think the plot thickens a little bit.

    Take a step back. You are in charge of IT procurement in a large funded organisation. People shout about the cost of MS stuff compared to linux/open source. But you've heard about runins about licencing and so forth. Might even have had to do a software asset assessment with amendments.

    At the point of preparing a business plan that encompasses introduction of open source in the organisation you learn about some contended rights issues.

    Intrigued you look a bit more and see a rabid ... well get the picture?

    Maybe linux has to mature in more ways than one?

  86. P. Lee
    Linux

    It isn't whether you win or lose...

    ... its how expensive it is to play the game.

    Large companies have so many patents on trivial things that they can afford to throw them away. It isn't about winning, its about MS sending a message to other companies out there who might use linux, telling them that they should license windows instead because they wouldn't survive a fight with MS.

    Sure, MS may lose this fight and a couple of worthless patents, but if you're thinking about building a business around embedded devices, you now have to consider the possibility of a hostile MS showing up at your door in a few years. Or would you rather pay a small and predictable license fee?

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    It will be a great day when Microsoft burn in hell.

    Microsoft's action has had the following effect on me. ( I own a TomTom which is a great device )

    - Reinforces my commitment to never ever buy anything Microsoft

    - Spend lots of money on TomTom devices.

    - Never ever provide any support for people that use windows, sorry people. My time spend providing unpaid windows support are gone.... I used to help all sorts of people

    with their windows problems.... but no more.

    -Never buy a Fiat. ( yes I hired a Fiat 500 for a day, and it has what looks like a USB port but with a Microsoft logo, don't know what that is but sorry Fiat you are on the blacklist as well.)

    Microsoft can go to hell and the sooner the better.

  88. Damien Thorn
    Linux

    hedge funds

    Now you know why microsoft file so many patents - its for when they release turkeys and then rush to release new versions.

    The patents are so they can hire there staff back.

    Looks like a good plan - plenty of cars with tom tom - so they might have a spare few billion to pay.

  89. zeke

    battered wife syndrome leads some to hope things will change

    What part of "Red Hat users owe us money (while Novell dont since theyve paid the protection racket for 'using' our IP)|" didnt some of you folks understand?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5B0GTYfPoMo

    I have never listened to what the assistant to the Secretary of Agriculture has to say about the direction of our country, instead I listen to what the president says.

    Same thing whether its GM, IBM or any other Fortune 500 company: do you base yoursef on some low level manager or the CEO?

    "Gee, I know Steve Jobs/Eric Schmidt/pick says one thing but Bob in accounting says the company is going in another direction? Hmm, who should I believe?"

    Yet when it comes to Microsoft, were supposed to be oblivious to the 800pd gorilla?

    So why should I listen to some low level flunky like Bill Milf or Ramji about which way the company is going? You listen to what the guy who signs the paychecks says.

    And baldy has never uttered anything remotely pragmatic about Linux while Im sure wishful thinking has helped fill in the blanks for a lot of people.

    Its almost like battered wife syndrome.

    "Sure, he treats me badly, beats me and threathens me but deep down he really loves me. I know it. See the nice bracelet/open source conference sponsorship he gave me? He's really sorry you know."

    And when he hits you again, dont be surprised.

    Abuse relationships are that way.

  90. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Bloody excellent.

    This is good news.

    If the claims are found to be bogus, MS will suffer even more loss of credibility.

    If any are found to be upholdable the infringing code will be changed quickly.

    Everybody wins. Except Microsoft.

  91. John Savard Silver badge

    BASIC/Mage

    Of course, MS-DOS looked a lot like CP/M. But then, CP/M looked a lot like OS/8 (from DEC), which few people realized. The old PIP command for COPY came from Peripheral Interchange Program. Of course, OS/8 had 6.2 filenames instead of 8.3.

    Maybe HP and Xerox should get together and produce the next great operating system. But Apple successfully sued Xerox at one time in the past (while Xerox was unsuccessful in suing Apple), so it isn't as simple as that.

  92. William Towle
    Boffin

    Re: Where is Tom Toms GPLed code?

    "Where can I download a copy of TomToms modified Linux? Or do they use a "special" version of the GPL?"

    Is this from the perspective of someone who does or doesn't own the device? The GPL [quoting v2 section 3] states "You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:" and all the subsections start "accompany it with".

    ...the point being that people with a device shouldn't be left high and dry for fixes if the company goes under, or are simply uncooperative. If anyone else can get the code, then the company is being generous with it (or their lawyers are paranoid).

  93. The Badger
    Flame

    Re: It really is in linux best interest...

    "Besides, if the open source community seeks maturity it will also have to learn to handle rights issues with responsibility and respect."

    Hello?! Open source is built on "rights issues", specifically copyright, and there's a lot of guidance out there with regard to tracking contributions, best practices, and so on, quite possibly followed a lot more closely by open source projects than proprietary projects whose developers, hidden behind the corporate veil, might well be doing a lot of Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V with the impression that no-one will ever check up on what they've been doing.

    Blah, blah, "responsibility and respect". You should acquire a clue about what people actually do in the real world instead of projecting your flawed prejudices on a large group of people.

    "If not for the open source contributors themselves then certainly for those who may wish to incorporate linux into a commercial environment."

    This is known as "FUD". Of course, people who advocate software patents like threatening strangers in an arbitrary fashion, just as you've done in your vague phrasing above, because patents are pretty much the only instrument which allows such extortion to occur.

    "As someone once said: it is always the right time to do the right thing?"

    The "right thing" in your case would be to stop astroturfing, I guess. No spurious question mark needed there.

  94. Edward Virtually

    as somone who warned about this for years on slashdot...

    i'd say those stupid enough to get into bed with Microsoft deserve the raping they'll eventually get. this turn of events comes as a surprise to no one who knows how Microsoft was created or how it got where it is today. go read "The Microsoft File: The Secret Case Against Bill Gates". it tells you everything you need to know. Microsoft's lured a number of fools into bed. This is just the beginning.

  95. A J Stiles
    Stop

    Open and shut case

    It's an open and shut case. There are no such things as software patents in the UK and the EU. TomTom should petition for Microsoft to be labelled as vexatious litigants.

    Anyway, I think it's high time the whole system of copyrights and patents was re-examined from the ground up. Patents and copyrights were never about providing revenue streams for corporations: the original intent was to encourage authors and inventors to share their works with the rest of society at large, so that we all got to benefit from them in the end. Back in the days, the grant of a temporary monopoly over your work in exchange for the promise eventually to share it with the rest of the world was the best way to encourage sharing of ideas -- if you didn't patent your invention, there was a real risk that someone else might independently reinvent it and you would wind up with nothing.

    Today, the sheer fact of patents and copyright being abused right, left and centre suggests that there may well be a better system to reward people for sharing their discoveries. I'm not sure what that better system might involve, but anything's better thanm the present mess.

  96. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I told you so as did countless others.....

    I dont want to be the guy who does it.... but damn if Im not going to remind people as much now as before: NOTHING HAS CHANGED in Microsoft stance.

    I dont care which janitor or low level manager they send to conferences to say sweet nothings about OSS (because we now they try extra hard not ot even mention the word free software), the people who run the company have shown no change in their position.

    As a Red Hat user, I was told that I owe Microsoft money because Red Hat Linux has stolen IP it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5B0GTYfPoMo

    (notice which distro is 'legit' because they payed for the rights of using those patents)

    Find me ONE instance where the CEO of Microsoft has said anything different in the past 24months. Take your time, it might take you a long time because there isnt.

    Im not a skeptic but Im not a doe eyed twit either. You might want to believe they have changed but everything that I hear from the leadership at Redmond says its business as usual.

    The guy who runs the company hasnt changed his tune and guess what? That's who matters.

    I dont bother asking some pencil pusher at Apple for the position of the company on something, I read what Jobs has to say.

    Im not sure the position of the president on some foreign policy matter (like what kind of democracy needs military bases in over 120 countries?) do I read/listen to what he says or what some secretary in the steno pool has to say?

    Feel free to let me know what Ballmer has said/done in the past 24months which makes you think that Microsoft has changed because the reasons given so far like they gave money (petty cash for them) to Apache and some conferences are just pathetic.

    There are also now tons of internal Microsoft documents available online from recent court cases which show the methods and tactics that Microsoft uses. Feel free to peruse the emails from Gates, Ballmer and top executives and see how they work.

    Then tell me how they love us and that FLOSS has nothing to fear.

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