updated 08:20 pm EDT, Mon March 30, 2009
TomTom and MS Settlement
Microsoft and TomTom today said they have reached a settlement regarding their patent dispute that will put an end to their mutual lawsuits over GPS technology. The agreement sees TomTom get "coverage" from Microsoft for 3 patents that reportedly still meet TomTom's requirements for its GPL v2 license. In exchange, TomTom must remove the features related to two FAT file system patents within the next two years.
The deal also involves a financial arrangement whose terms haven't been mentioned, though Microsoft emphasizes that it doesn't have to pay TomTom. The agreement lasts for the next 5 years and covers past products.
TomTom's concession comes as a partial surprise, as the company had just last week secured a Linux license that would theoretically have given the company access to patents it could use to defend its own uses of Linux, including three Microsoft patents that allegedly touched on the use of the operating system.
Critics have charged that Microsoft has lately used patent cross-licensing through Novell and others to wield influence over other companies using Linux. The GPL v3 license was developed in part to prevent firms from entering into these deals and thus to shut out Microsoft from controlling genuinely open-source companies.