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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What is Going On - Microsoft Versus TomTom

As there is only very little news available on this topic, how is one
to interpret this information. This is my first impression.

Microsoft said on Wednesday that it is steering Netherlands-based
vehicle navigation systems firm TomTom to court (and with the
International Trade Commission) for infringing on the software giant's
patented technology. The information is released by Horacio Gutierrez,
deputy general counsel of intellectual property and licensing at
Microsoft. (source Google news).

A first impression: Goliath (Microsoft) fighting against David
(TomTom). Is TomTom using Microsoft for its navigation devices? No, it
uses the Linux OS. That is the first problem in not making friend with
Microsoft. So what are they using from Microsoft? Something about
"file management, the ability to run multiple applications..." is what
reads the news. But filemanagement is that proprietary to MS or
Multi-using, multi-tasking... Is Unix or Linux not offering much
better alternatives? As there is no more information on this topic, we
have to speculate.

Microsoft tried for over a year to settle this dispute by offering a
licence agreement, but TomTom didn't respond. "Why should we," they
must have thought as they are not using their software. Software
patents is an opaque area of rules and details of intellectual
property that only lawyers can handle. But attacking your competition
this way is a means to use your brand name as a mechanism to exercise
power over others.

"TomTom is a highly respected and important company," Gutierrez said.
"We remain open to quickly resolving this situation with them through
an IP licensing agreement." This means as much as: they are small and
fast growing and a treat to us. And we have the time with us where
protecting national industry is seen as an act of heroism these
critical days. Maybe it helps in court.

The good news for TomTom is the attention they get. Yes the Stock
quote is harmed by this sort of news, but apparently they are doing a
good job otherwise Microsoft would attack them.