Microsoft Corporation has recently sued TomTom for patent infringement for its device which includes Linux. Although a number of stories have assumed that the suit is the first salvo in the long awaited patent assualt on Linux by Microsoft, I think that these concerns are premature. First, the suit is part of a longstanding controversy between the two parties and filing this type of suit is a common method of encouraging the other side to come to the bargaining table. Second, a brief review of many of the patents indicate that they are focused on GPS and other claims unrelated to Linux. Third, the claims relating to Linux, such as the FAT, are based on features common to many operating systems and are likely to be subject to challenge under the new higher standards for patents set by the Supreme Court. They are unlikely to be Microsoft’s strongest patents reading on Linux.
I think that Jim Zemlin of the Linux Foundation got it right: calm down, but be alert http://www.linux-foundation.org/weblogs/jzemlin/2009/02/26/note-on-microsoft-tomtom-suit-calm-down-hope-for-the-best-plan-for-the-worst/. I may have more to tell tomorrow when we will hear from Sam Ramji at the Open Source Think Tank.
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