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Microsoft-TomTom settlement is end of a battle, not the war


In a surprising turn of developments, GPS navigation device vendor TomTom International BV has agreed to pay Microsoft Corp. to settle patent-infringement cases the companies had recently filed against each other.

The lawsuits rose above the ordinary run of patent litigation because three of Microsoft’s patents touched on areas that are also covered by the open-source General Public License Version 2 (GPLv2) copyright restrictions on Linux. Thus, the lawsuit marked the first time that Microsoft had legally challenged Linux’s intellectual property .

The case further heated up when TomTom countersued Microsoft and joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), an open-source patent protection group. But the case came to an abrupt end on March 30.

In return for an undisclosed licensing fee, TomTom can use Microsoft’s patents. However, according to a statement from Peter Spours, TomTom’s director of IP Strategy and Transactions, the agreement “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.”

Spours declined, however, to explain how TomTom can both use the patent’s intellectual property (IP) and conform with the GPLv2.

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