To keep it short, I’m sure anyone who winds up here has already heard about the recent Microsoft lawsuit against TomTom, alleging patent infringement. Coverage has been extensive, including GrokLaw and Linux Magazine. While the mentioned patents include car navigation technology (at least the names of the patents seem amazingly vague) and FAT . Most of the news stories I’ve read say that it’s “good for Linux” and will never see the inside of a courtroom.

Maybe I’m just a pessimist, but I see the idea behind this as much worse than “good for Linux”. MS chose one company to sue. TomTom just happens to be not only a household name, but also posted a $1.2 Billion loss last year. It seems to me this is more of a FUD campaign than anything else… the best case for Microsoft is that they could strangle TomTom in a legal battle, perhaps force them to go under, and then ensure a media spin along the lines of “Know that company that made the GPS in every car? They used Linux in it, they got sued by Microsoft, and they’re no more.”

While I haven’t always been a fan of TomTom - and am still bothered by the fact that my (stolen, no longer in my possession) TomTom One ran Linux but wouldn’t give me a console or even let me see the filesystem - I’ll be watching this closely, and hoping that the powers that be will not let the angry dinosaur crush a company over a series of patents that are either horribly obvious (anyone other than Garmin having a claim to any GPS-related idea is beyond me) or just horrible (FAT?!?!?!).

On a final note - isn’t it about time that the US finally dealt with this damn software patent thing? Not only does it horribly stifle innovation (not good to do in a bad economy), and I have a hard time grasping the claim that Microsoft’s developers are so all-powerful that they’re the only people that thought of technology X, but it’s about time that the US government got the balls to look Microsoft in the eyes and say, “you’re not the only game in town anymore. Get used to it.”


comments powered by Disqus