Microsoft, TomTom Settle Patent Infringement Battle

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2009-03-30 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Microsoft and TomTom have come to an agreement to settle patent infringement claims the companies made against each other, the companies say. The cases have been settled through a patent agreement under which TomTom will pay Microsoft for coverage under the eight car navigation and file management systems patents in the Microsoft case.

Microsoft and TomTom, on March 30, announced a settlement in "the patent infringement cases brought by Microsoft before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington and the International Trade Commission ... and by TomTom in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

"The cases have been settled through a patent agreement under which TomTom will pay Microsoft for coverage under the eight car navigation and file management systems patents in the Microsoft case. Also as part of the agreement, Microsoft receives coverage under the four patents included in the TomTom countersuit. The agreement, which has a five-year term, does not require any payment by Microsoft to TomTom. It covers both past and future U.S. sales of the relevant products. The specific financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed," Microsoft said in a news release.

The case, which was viewed as possibly becoming a seminal case in terms of Microsoft's battle with Linux and open source, is now done. 

According to Microsoft:

The agreement includes patent coverage for Microsoft's three file management systems patents provided in a manner that is fully compliant with TomTom's obligations under the General Public License Version 2 (GPLv2). TomTom will remove from its products the functionality related to two file management system patents (the "FAT LFN patents"), which enables efficient naming, organizing, storing and accessing of file data. TomTom will remove this functionality within two years, and the agreement provides for coverage directly to TomTom's end customers under these patents during that time. 

Peter Spours, director of IP Strategy and Transactions at TomTom, said, "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."

Meanwhile, Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing for Microsoft, said:

We are pleased TomTom has chosen to resolve the litigation amicably by entering into a patent agreement. Our car navigation patents, which are at the heart of the enhanced auto experience enjoyed by millions of drivers today, have been licensed to many companies, including leaders in the car navigation sector. The file management system patents, which increase file management system efficiency and functionality, have also been licensed by many companies, including those that produce mixed source products.

We were able to work with TomTom to develop a patent agreement that addresses their needs and ours in a pragmatic way. When addressing IP infringement issues, there are two possible paths: securing patent coverage or not using the technology at issue. Through this agreement, TomTom is choosing a combination of both paths to meet the unique needs of its business, and we are glad to help them do so.

 
 
 
 
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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