'Linux Defenders' aim at Microsoft patents

A Linux advocacy group on Tuesday said it is publicly seeking invention data that could help overturn three Microsoft patents that the software maker has charged are infringed by some implementations of the Linux kernel.

The Open Invention Network said it is looking for examples of so-called prior art that could help invalidate three file management patents that Microsoft used in its suit against GPS maker TomTom. Although TomTom and Microsoft settled, the suit raised the specter that Microsoft might pursue other Linux-related companies.

OIN encouraged those with examples of earlier work in the areas covered by Microsoft's patents … Read more

Buzz Out Loud 944: Natali needs a zombie team

We're not talking about a team of dancing zombies; we mean a team of friends to form her Zombie Preparedness task force. Because it is Zombie Preparedness Day. We also bring it with some open-source good news for DVR builders, and the Linux folks talking tough to Microsoft.

Listen now: Download today's podcast EPISODE 944

Time Warner rationale for bandwidth caps doesn’t add up

Verizon promises 4G wireless for rural America

MPAA: Box office up, but 'sober epic' underway in home video … Read more

TomTom suit suggests Microsoft's still Microsoft

The more that Microsoft's patent lawsuit against (and subsequent settlement with) TomTom simmers in my consciousness, the more I want to boil.

I gave Microsoft the benefit of the doubt early on: I know a few of the Microsoft personnel involved in the case, and I think that they're wonderful people of integrity and intelligence.

They're also fiercely competitive, and it's becoming apparent to me that the TomTom lawsuit was designed to bludgeon one of Microsoft's biggest competitors, Linux; it was not any serious attempt to protect its intellectual property.

The Linux Foundation's Jim Zemlin captures my sentiments well:… Read more

TomTom debuts XL 340 and One 140 series GPS devices

TomTom announced Wednesday that it's rolling out a few new models: the TomTomXL 340 and 340S and the TomTom One 140 and 140S. The new units now include maps of Mexico, in addition to maps of the United States and Canada. Furthermore, TomTom's Advanced Lane Guidance feature trickles farther down the product lineup, as these new models gain the highly useful ability to display detailed information about major highway lanes and where they go.

The TomTom XL 340 and 340S are 4.3-inch wide-screen models that both feature TomTom Map Share, which allows users to upload corrections to … Read more

Microsoft v. TomTom heading for round 2?

Microsoft and TomTom have settled their patent dispute, including claims related to the FAT file system and Linux. But the rest of the open-source world, which could be affected, isn't ready to lie down and accept Linux's possibly besmirched reputation.

Red Hat, for its part, declares that "without a judicial decision, the settlement does not demonstrate that the claims of Microsoft were valid." And Pamela Jones of Groklaw, a highly influential open-source legal blog, deprecates Microsoft's claims ("What? You thought Microsoft's spin on things was always gospel?"), citing the Software Freedom Law … Read more

CNET News Daily Podcast: What the Microsoft, TomTom settlement means

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Shortly after suing and countersuing each other over mobile mapping and file management patents, Microsoft and TomTom have worked out an agreement. But it actually provokes more questions than it answers, as reporter Ina Fried explains, since the agreement involves patent protection on open-source technology.

Also in Monday's podcast: Western Digital buys its way into the solid-state drive market; video games can be a boon to eyesight, according to one report; and a U.K. university starts … Read more

TomTom settlement leaves key questions unanswered

While reaction to Microsoft's settlement with TomTom was varied on Monday, there seemed to be a consensus that it will do little to settle the many questions related to whether Linux infringes on Microsoft's intellectual property.

Attorney James Gatto, the leader of the intellectual property section at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, said the quick settlement in the case may have as much to do with a pragmatic business decision by TomTom as it does with the legal merits of Microsoft's case. Complex litigation, such as the patent suit and countersuit in this case, could easily add up to $10 million to $15 million in costs, Gatto said.

"I don't think this answers any questions in terms of whether Microsoft's patents in any way cover Linux," Gatto said. Microsoft has long asserted that various implementations of Linux do infringe on its intellectual property and has struck a number of patent deals with companies that either distribute Linux or use it in their products.

The TomTom case, however, marked the first time that Microsoft had made those allegations in court papers.

Open-source pioneer Bruce Perens criticized the settlement, saying that it may instill fear in other companies that are using embedded Linux and thus have something of a chilling effect.

"What strikes me is the un-justice of it all," said Perens, who is the chief executive of open-source software development company Kiloboot. "Microsoft's patents (in the TomTom case) are not innovative, yet TomTom is forced to pay for the patents when a court would probably find them invalid. But rather than spend the money to prove the patents are invalid, because they probably can't afford to go to court and fight it, TomTom licenses the patents."

Gatto said that Microsoft's TomTom move doesn't necessarily mean the company is ready to go to war with Linux. … Read more

Microsoft, TomTom settle patent dispute

Microsoft and TomTom have reached a settlement in their respective patent suits, the companies said Monday.

As part of the deal, as TomTom will pay Microsoft for patent protection related to mapping patents and file-management patents that Microsoft claimed were infringed by TomTom's use of the Linux kernel. Microsoft will also get access to the TomTom patents that were cited in TomTom's countersuit against Microsoft, although Microsoft won't make any payment to TomTom.

In a statement, the two companies said that the settlement provides TomTom patent coverage "in a manner that is fully compliant with TomTom'… Read more

TomTom joins open-source patent collective

TomTom, the GPS maker being sued by Microsoft, has joined a collective of companies that have pooled their patents in an effort to help defend open-source software against legal threats.

In a press release on Monday, the Open Invention Network said that TomTom had joined its ranks. The collective aims to create a "supportive and shielded ecosystem to ensure the growth and adoption of Linux" and has amassed a pool of 275 pending and issued patents.

"Linux plays an important role at TomTom as the core of all our portable navigation devices," Peter Spours, director of … Read more