When Microsoft first sued TomTom for patent violations in TomTom’s Linux-powered navigation devices, I wasn’t sure how much of a fight TomTom would put up. Legally TomTom was between a rock and a hard place. You can’t use restricted use patents in GPLed software. If Microsoft just wanted to use the lawsuit as a hostile takeover tactic, TomTom didn’t have anything like Microsoft’s financial resources to fight them with.
But, while TomTom may be out-gunned by Microsoft, the OIN (Open Invention Network/) isn’t. TomTom joined OIN on March 23. The OIN is an intellectual property company that was formed to promote Linux by using patents to create a collaborative ecosystem. Its members include IBM, Novell, Sony, and Red Hat.
One of OIN’s initiatives is Linux Defenders, which also brings the resources of the SFLC (Software Freedom Law Center) and the Linux Foundation to bear against anyone who wants to try patent lawsuits against Linux.
Now, neither TomTom nor the OIN is saying they’ll use the OIN and friends’ patent resources against Microsoft. But, you’ have to be an idiot not to see that that exactly what they’re implying will happen if Microsoft want to keep pushing forward with its patent lawsuits.