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TomTom Sues Microsoft For Patent Infringement

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the gentlemen-do-not-consult-each-other's-patents dept.

Patents 166

CWmike writes "GPS device maker TomTom has shot back at Microsoft with a claim of patent infringement, after the software giant raised concerns in the Linux community with a recent lawsuit against TomTom. In a suit filed earlier this week, TomTom alleges that Microsoft infringes on four patents in mapping software Microsoft Streets and Trips. TomTom is asking for triple damages for willful infringement, since it says it had notified Microsoft about its alleged infringement. Microsoft said it was reviewing TomTom's filing and that it remains committed to a licensing solution and has been for more than a year."

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Tom Tom sues Microsoft for... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27266685)

my DICK infringement, bitch.

Total War? (5, Interesting)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266697)

Is this the start of a total patent war? That would be quite entertaining. Hope when the dust settles we're in for a patent reform.

Re:Total War? (5, Insightful)

something_wicked_thi (918168) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266743)

The funny thing is that, if the summary is true, it could have been TomTom, not MS, that shot first. Maybe MS suing TomTom was just retaliation for TomTom trying to collect royalties.

Re:Total War? (5, Insightful)

pieterh (196118) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266775)

What this shows is that firms which take patents are more likely to be involved in patent lawsuits. So the whole "we took defensive patents, now see how we need them" becomes a self-justifying circle.

Re:Total War? (1)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 5 years ago | (#27268165)

No, what this shows is companies who employ full time attorneys are more likely to become involved in lawsuits. The patents are simply the weapon of choice.

EFF understands the threat against OSS and that's why we continue to see the stockpile of defensive portfolios.

Re:Total War? (3, Insightful)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 5 years ago | (#27268699)

What this shows is that firms which take patents are more likely to be involved in patent lawsuits. So the whole "we took defensive patents, now see how we need them" becomes a self-justifying circle.

Isn't what you're saying circular? TomTom didn't get into this dispute because it had patents; it got into it because Microsoft did. But now, because it has patents, it and Microsoft will eventually be able to settle with a cross-licensing scheme -- whereas if it didn't, then it wouldn't have any bargaining chips.

The only "circle" I see isn't a circle at all but rather a collective action problem: If all companies voluntarily agreed to avoid this patent nonsense, then they'd all be better off. But the individual incentives encourage patenting. See the Tragedy of the Commons [wikipedia.org] , the Prisoner's Dilemma [wikipedia.org] , or any other canonical example of a collective action problem.

Re:Total War? (5, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266827)

Not likely.

Seriously. TomTom is a much smaller company than Microsoft. It isn't likely that they would launch a patent strike against Microsoft (unless their CEO happens to be Darl McBride ;), a company with a much bigger portfolio and more cash. As a comparison, according to TomTom's 2007 annual report, at that time, they had ~$2 billion in assets world wide. Microsoft has ~$20 billion just in cash.

Re:Total War? (5, Insightful)

overlordofmu (1422163) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267593)

Are you saying that the law is not equal and fair?

Are you saying that in the USA the wealthy are at an inherent advantaged over the poor? That justice isn't blind and she looks at the litigants pocket books and leans on the rich person's side of the scale?

I was just wondering because I see the same thing and it is nice to hear that I am not alone.

Re:Total War? (4, Insightful)

murdocj (543661) | more than 5 years ago | (#27268551)

Are you saying that in the USA the wealthy are at an inherent advantaged over the poor?

You mean, like the rest of the world?

Re:Total War? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27268669)

STFU. In America, the "poor" are only poor because they are lazy or just plain stupid. Anyone who is willing to work hard and make a few sacrifices can easily get as much wealth as they desire.

Re:Total War? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27268703)

Anyone willing to work hard, to learn, to make sacrifices along the way, can claw themselves from poor/destitute/working class up to middle-class. No more. Big money comes from knowing the right people, already being rich, or being lucky - in the right place, at the right time.

Re:Total War? (1)

cfriedt (1189527) | more than 5 years ago | (#27268193)

TomTom is a much smaller company than Microsoft. It isn't likely that they would launch a patent strike against Microsoft..., a company with a much bigger portfolio and more cash.

I wonder if the above comment could be counted as reasonable legal evidence arguing that the US Patent System is corrupt (conventional "wisdom").

In spite of the irony, I wouldn't be surprised if someone already holds a patented business process on judging a patent lawsuit based on who has more money and more expensive lawyers. Throw in bribes and there you have a quasi-functional, feedback-business-control system!

Though I believe that software and business process patents should only exist in Neverland, I still hope that TomTom would win the case if they already had a patent on the "device" in question, regardless of whether they are a company with more or less capital. I assume that the invention was non-obvious at the time the patent and lawsuits were filed, of course, which may not be the case today.

That is definitely not the case with the FAT filesystem.

Has MicroSoft done anything innovative since MS Office?

Re:Total War? (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266841)

it could have been TomTom, not MS, that shot first.

There's a bit of a difference between notifying someone and filing a lawsuit. If Microsoft is infringing on their patents what else should they have done? You can't ignore it. Personally I'd rather receive a letter in that situation than a summons. Maybe that's just me....

Re:Total War? (3, Insightful)

Ioldanach (88584) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267065)

Also, from the article, Microsoft "remains committed to a licensing solution and has been for more than a year." So Microsoft has known about this patent violation for a year, and rather than stopping the violation while seeking a license, they continued to infringe. It would be hard to find a clearer case of willful infringement.

Re:Total War? (1, Insightful)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 5 years ago | (#27268167)

I hate Microsoft just like next guy, but sorry, *ALL* software patents are troll patents in my book. If you start using it against anyone else (which I don't say is the case of TomTom, we don't know yet) then prepare other SW patents to bite you back.

Re:Total War? (4, Insightful)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267299)

If Microsoft is infringing on their patents what else should they have done? You can't ignore it.

True. But if it really has been a year since they sent the notification, it seems pretty clear that 1) Microsoft doesn't think they're infringing or 2) they simply don't want to pay license fees. #1 doesn't seem likely, because of that quote about looking for a licensing solution, so it has to be #2.

So how do you infringe somebody's patent and not have to pay them to continue using it? You trade. But you can't trade unless they're also infringing one of yours -- so you can file a lawsuit, which essentially forces them to counter-sue. Now you're both in the pot and you both have incentive to deal, and agreeing to a patent license swap is certainly the easiest and most pain-free resolution to the conflict.

Note that nowhere in that scenario does any party have to actually prove the other is infringing, nor does it even have to be reality. It just has to have a prospect of losing scary enough that you don't want to let a judge/jury decide an outcome. It can be fear of losing or simply fear of legal costs in pursuing a win -- and having Microsoft's legal department on the other side of the table should go a long way toward that.

And hey, if Microsoft actually succeeds in getting a patent trade without TomTom actually infringing one of their patents... well, they won handily.

Re:Total War? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27268453)

But aren't courts tired of getting used for this type of thing? That's like two guys organizing a public boxing match between themselves. They get a ring, a referee, a crowd... As soon as round 1 starts, they look at each other and decide it's not worth fighting. If all they wanted was to compare each other's muscles, couldn't they have done this privately instead of wasting a bunch of people's time?

Re:Total War? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27267361)

Han shot first. Have you not been watching?

Re:Total War? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27267697)

The funny thing is that, if the summary is true,

Now that would be funny. Summaries on Slashdot being true. That's a good one.

Re:Total War? (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 5 years ago | (#27268305)

The funny thing is that, if the summary is true, it could have been TomTom, not MS, that shot first. Maybe MS suing TomTom was just retaliation for TomTom trying to collect royalties.

You and quite a few other posters are getting it quite wrong.

When Microsoft talks about remaining committed to a licensing solution, they're saying "we want these bitches to pay up, but they up and pulled the same stunt on us". They're talking about their own claims against TomTom [theregister.co.uk] , and since the maker has thus far refused to back down, and is now turning the same fire onto Microsoft, they're probably even more committed to reaching a licensing deal.

But hopefully it doesn't come to that. Hopefully this whole farce of software patents is blown wide open, and the growing protection racket that Microsoft has going on, adding a Microsoft tax to a lot of goods that you don't even know about, gets demolished.

TomTom is a frickin' hero. Just bought a GPS yesterday and I wish I got a TomTom (got a Garmin).

Re:Total War? (4, Insightful)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266767)

Well it certainly makes Tom Tom's previous complaints about patent bullies look a bit thin. As they admit they threatened Microsoft. To their surprise, Microsoft fired first.

In other words the Microsoft suit had nothing whatsoever to do with Linux, except to the extent that if your product uses Linux and you try to sue Microsoft for infringement of your own patents you can expect to be sued in return.

This is not a new situation. The car industry discovered that it was impossible to build cars without cross licensing between all the major manufacturers in the 1950s.

Re:Total War? (5, Interesting)

sapphire wyvern (1153271) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267885)

This is not a new situation. The car industry discovered that it was impossible to build cars without cross licensing between all the major manufacturers in the 1950s.

Thus creating a nice high barrier to entry to protect the incumbent oligarchs. Further evidence that the current patent regime is certainly not good for the quality of the market.

Re:Total War? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27266805)

Personally I'm waiting for IBM to jump on the band wagon and sue both TomTom and Microsoft for patent infringement for using electronic devices in implementing data reading. Then Oracle decides they want a slice of the pie and sues everyone for infringing on their patent to use patents to sue other companies. And just when this mexican standoff starts to get hairy, we get HP joining in claiming that everyone has violated their patent of patenting patents. At this point all the big guns come out and the pantent suites start flying until you need a a meter by meter poster to diagram out the connection using a 10pt font. The Lawyers then go to work, bankrupting all the companies and then turn around and ask the US government for a bailout. Which is when AIG strikes claiming that it would violate their patent of receiving government bailouts.

At this point the rest of the world decides to nuke the US to stop the disease from spreading.

Re:Total War? (5, Funny)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266921)

Actually, Halliburton [uspto.gov] has the patent on patent trolling.

Re:Total War? (1)

nicolas.kassis (875270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27268557)

I will now have to quote this patent in every patent discussion ever to come about on any internet website or discussion. Please do the same.

Re:Total War? (2, Funny)

InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267759)

And then the dominoes will fall like a house of cards, checkmate!

Re:Total War? (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27268199)

Is this the start of a total patent war? That would be quite entertaining. Hope when the dust settles we're in for a patent reform.

FOOD FIGHT!

Can I be the first to say (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27266699)

touche!

Go TomTom! *dances*

Stop the world, I want off (4, Insightful)

squoozer (730327) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266711)

Is it just me that is a bit fed up with this sort of situation? The last few years seems to have seen the rise of the legal stalemate based on patent infringement where 90% of the patents are for trivial ideas anyway. I'm sure when the patent and legal system were designed this wasn't what was intended as it helps no one and just ends up costing us, the buyers, more money. I suppose it keeps all those lawyers in business though.

Re:Stop the world, I want off (5, Funny)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266735)

Is it just me that is a bit fed up with this sort of situation?

Inter corporate relations look more and more like a kindergarden recess.

You infringed my patent, I will sue !
Did not nyah nyah
Did so, I'm telling on you
Oh yeah ? Well you infringed first, so there !

Re:Stop the world, I want off (1)

TheDreadSlashdotterD (966361) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266913)

When you put enough idiots together, that's how things turn out. This has been happening since humans started banding into tribes and tribal warfare emerged.

Re:Stop the world, I want off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27267325)

http://despair.com/teamwork.html

Re:Stop the world, I want off (0, Offtopic)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267131)

And don't forget the interaction of corporations with society:

AIG: Waaaahhh! I need to get my bonus?
Taxpayer: We gave you lots of money after you lost all your money and ours also. You don't deserve a bonus, you're too rich already.
AIG: Waaahhhh! I was promised this! Now I won't be able to attract the best talent.

Re:Stop the world, I want off (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27267519)

Taxpayer: You totally mishandled your own money, so we gave you a bunch of ours, and you mishandled that, too? I'm outraged you would do such a thing! I had every reason to believe you would handle OUR money much better than your own!!!

Re:Stop the world, I want off (3, Insightful)

kj_kabaje (1241696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267037)

It builds paper wealth for some people; much like short-selling and the current Wall Street debacle.

Lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27267995)

If it weren't for Lawyers, we would'nt need Lawyers.

Re:Stop the world, I want off (3, Interesting)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27268715)

Without the Internet, just 10 - 15 years ago...you probably wouldn't have heard about any of this unless you happened to be involved in it.

Maybe some trade publications would have covered it, but there were few newspapers that would have.

It's been going on for a while, it is just that the last few years, Slashdot made it front page news for geeks everywhere.

The Internet was a game changing, disruptive technology. Maybe things will change a *little* simply because there are people getting fed up with it. Whereas, in the past, it was just business as usual.

I know after watching what happened to SCO, I would have to have some kind of freaking air tight case to sue a company involved in Linux.

Even if SCO had one, they would have still lost.

Transporter_ii

MAD (4, Insightful)

INeededALogin (771371) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266717)

Does anyone else see the entire corporate structure in America as being nothing more than a patent standoff? It is basically the whole "Mutually Assured Destruction" with small companies being the equivalent of 3rd world countries. This is pretty unsettling that the only retort to a patent lawsuit is to fire off a counter from your own portfolio.

Re:MAD (2, Insightful)

chalkyj (927554) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266783)

But does anything actually come of these lawsuits? I read about infringement claims by trolls against large companies and by large companies against each other all the time, but they never seem to come to anything - or at least the outcome is never publicised.

Does anyone have some information on what percentage of technology patent suits get thrown out of court and how many actually end in settlement or damages?

Re:MAD (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267659)

But does anything actually come of these lawsuits?

I guess usually not if you have other patents to defend yourself. If you don't, you are probably fucked.

Re:MAD (3, Informative)

mikael (484) | more than 5 years ago | (#27268211)

In the past 10 years, the most notable patent lawsuits were:

SCO vs. Linux - After hundreds of millions of dollars were blown away in lawyers legal fees, the judge rules that Linux didn't infringe on SCO's intellectual property. Best site for news here is Groklaw [groklaw.com]

3Dfx vs. Nvidia - 3dfx lost and merged into Nvidia [firingsquad.com]

Rambus vs. Hynix vs Micron Technology vs. Infineon Technologies vs. Siemens AG. vs. Samsung

Rambus seemed to be suing just about everyone, and everyone else was countersuing Rambus and each other. Legal letters seem to be flying around like chairs in a Saturday night bar fight.

Hynix to pay Rambus $379 million in patent dispute [theregister.co.uk]

A complete list of legal updates provided by Rambus [rambus.com]

Micron vs. Rambus [cnet.com]

Although it does seem better to settle all patent disputes with cross-licensing as soon as possible, rather than slogging it out into bankruptcy

Rambus and Infineon settle patent dispute [out-law.com]

Re:MAD (2, Informative)

merchant_x (165931) | more than 5 years ago | (#27268707)

You forgot the whole RIM vs NTP debacle.

Settlement reached in BlackBerry patent case
Research in Motion pays NTP $612.5 million; devices to stay on

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11659304/ [msn.com]

Re:MAD (3, Insightful)

infalliable (1239578) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266811)

Pretty much.

Large companies build up patent portfolios for the sole intention of using them in standoff mode or as defense.

I talked to someone in the digital storage area, and who basically said each company patents all they can so they have a large number as a defense. They basically have to infringe on others patents, and others have to infringe on theirs and they all just agree to go on doing business rather than pay the lawyers to squabble.

It is for these very instances. Company A goes to Company B and says your infringing on my patents. Company B's response is that you (company A) are infringing on mine as well. Nobody will win other than the patent lawyers.

Re:MAD (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266859)

Like any 3rd world dictator can tell you, sell out to of of the two big powers.
Be cool like Fulgencio Batista
General Carlos Castillo Armas
Augusto Pinochet
Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq

Or just get the "Patent Reform Bill" passed.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126994.400-us-patent-bill-a-chill-on-innovation.html [newscientist.com]

Re:MAD (2, Insightful)

adamchou (993073) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266929)

maybe we should get bush to invade these companies building these patents of mass destruction

Re:MAD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27267527)

Does anyone else see the entire corporate structure in America as being nothing more than a patent standoff?

Nope. Just the United States.

Virtual Earth? (3, Interesting)

alen (225700) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266737)

MS Virtual Earth has been around since the 1990's. How long has Tom Tom been around? Garmin has used Virtual Earth for it's GPS products.

I'm willing to bet Microsoft's case is a lot stronger than TomTom's

Re:Virtual Earth? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27266763)

Since 1991 according to their website.

Re:Virtual Earth? (3, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266855)

MS Virtual Earth has been around since the 1990's.

So has TomTom [tomtom.com] .

Re:Virtual Earth? (2, Informative)

alen (225700) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266923)

and when was this patent filed? Streets and Trips has been around since the 1990's as well. we used to use it in the army to drive from italy to germany

Re:Virtual Earth? (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267237)

tomtom's first navigation software came out in 2001.

Re:Virtual Earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27268091)

Partially correct - the companys first navigation software came out in 1996. The company name was changed to TomTom in 2001.

Re:Virtual Earth? (1)

cybrthng (22291) | more than 5 years ago | (#27268359)

From wikipedia:

"Originally created in the late 1980s by NextBase Ltd, a UK company, under the name "AutoRoute", it was sold for DOS based PCs and later for the Apple Macintosh. In the early 1990s it was ported to the Microsoft Windows operating system. The company created a version for the United States called AutoMap. In 1994 the product was sold to Microsoft. Microsoft sold products for Windows 95 as AutoMap Road Atlas and AutoMap Streets under the Microsoft Home brand."

MS mapping existed before TomTom was even borne

Re:Virtual Earth? (2, Insightful)

JustNilt (984644) | more than 5 years ago | (#27268611)

MS mapping existed before TomTom was even borne

Which means precisely squat. Software changes over time (duh). It should be obvious to anyone that TomTom alleges Microsoft began infringing at some date in the Streets & Trips app. I'm sure they aren't claiming the entire concept infringes but only a part, minor or otherwise.

Well for some this will be interesting... (5, Interesting)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266739)

"Microsoft said it was reviewing TomTom's filing and that it remains committed to a licensing solution and has been for more than a year."

Well until you have licensed you're in a quandary - you can't release, or you can but eventually you'll be sued. If TomTom doesn't want to license, and that's their right, then you are out of luck.

So you try and find some patent in your own portfolio that they might be infringing (even if it's a bit of a shady patent) to try and force them to license. "committed to a licensing solution" in this case simply means corporate bullying and threats ("committed to getting what we want for the least possible money"). With Don Ballmer at the head.

Re:Well for some this will be interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27267363)

TomTom cal always tell them "Turn right here ... turn right here ... turn right here ..." and leave them spinning in circles.

After all, that's what software "patents" do - leave us all spinning in circles.

Yet another patent story... (5, Insightful)

GerardAtJob (1245980) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266749)

... this really need to stop... patent over a mouseclick or a pointer on screen shouldn't be patentable... In fact everything from a computer software shouldn't be patentable... A series of IF and ELSE isn't something new... whatever you do with it... Instead of creating competition in a field (the one that implement the feature the BEST and improve the MOST), we created a huge pot of gold for lawyers... at least it's friday :D

Re:Yet another patent story... (2, Informative)

heironymouscoward (683461) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266759)

Check the Firehose for another patent story (some fools tried to claim a patent on SOAP!)

Re:Yet another patent story... (2, Informative)

pieterh (196118) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266813)

Too lazy to post the link?

http://yro.slashdot.org/firehose.pl?op=view&id=3828063&art_pos=7 [slashdot.org]

ftfy

Re:Yet another patent story... (3, Funny)

heironymouscoward (683461) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266823)

Too lazy to post the link?

No, I'm using Chromium on Linux and though it's fast it crashes whenever I try to paste text. So thanks for posting the link.

Re:Yet another patent story... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27266967)

A compelling argument to switch to Linux.

Re:Yet another patent story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27267743)

More like a ringing endorsement for Chromium.

(off topic) - Chromium (1)

heironymouscoward (683461) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267969)

FWIW I work on a netbook (Eee 1000 with eeebuntu) which is small, cheap, robust, and runs for 12 hours on an extended battery.

But Firefox is painfully slow. Chromium warns "This browser is not ready!" but is actually really great.

Apart from that cut and paste bug and a few more.

It's fast, fast, fast, and I don't mind if it crashes. I just restart it, remember to not press Ctrl-V, and let other people post my URLs for me.

I enjoyed Firefox a lot but the speed Chromium runs at makes it a compelling switch, even unfinished. Amazing, no?

Re:(off topic) - Chromium (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27268085)

I thought "method and process to create buggy code" was patented by Microsoft. Google better get Chromium running smooth on Linux or they gonna get sued! Hey, that app's crashing! Call the lawyers! Sue! Sue! Sue!

Re:Yet another patent story... (1)

richlv (778496) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267383)

what do you paste in chromium [reptilelabour.com] ?

Re:Yet another patent story... (1)

Lazypete (863757) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267205)

I agree with you, but not completely. Huge billionaire compagny shouln'd be allowed patent, they dont need them. Take a trip back in time and look at what the patent system was intended for: 1. Protect inventor from being ripped and copied by huge compagny with much more wealth and much more manpower that can produce a similar product at a lower cost. 2. Invite people to be creative without the fear of actually loosing money over their invention. (many small inventor invest quite a big ammount of money to make a product, if it get ripped and sold cheaply by someone else, they can't get into their money. Now take a look how the patent system now work. 1. Big compagny patent absolutely everything just in case someone try to make a product using that idea, then sue them. Most of the time waiting until the product hit the shelves to sue, even if they know someone is currently investing a truck load of money and that they will surely get ruined by the lawsuit. 2. Big compagnies just cross patent their stuff.. Ei: M$ get a software out, IBM says the infringe our patent number 14567, M$ answer yeah well your product XYZ infringe on our patent 76543 so lets call it even. 3. I think everyone knows about the patent trolls.. no need to go into details here.. So.. is it me or.. this system is completely screwed.. What need to be done IMO.. 1. Big compagny can't get patent.. you have more than 2000 employees.. No patent for you.. (the actual number can be discussed..) 2. Patent have a 2 years life time.. at the speed things moves these days.. 20 years is not a long time.. its a lifetime in the techology.. 3. All expired patent goes into CC (Creative commons) and are open. 4. Patent needs to be reviewed by specialist.. you want a computer science patent, fine a computer specialist is going to review you application and its better be a good idea cause if you submit a crap, you'll get a fine for abuse. 5. NO SOFTWARE PATENT PERIOD

Re:Yet another patent story... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27267467)

"...this really need to stop... patent over an engine or a mechanical component shouldn't be patentable... In fact everything physical shouldn't be patentable... A series of levers, wheels, pulleys, and inclined planes isn't something new... whatever you do with it..."

Oh, and off-topic: Why do I keep seeing people using ellipses instead of periods in between sentences? Is it common in another language and just translated to English?

Oblig. Red Dwarf quote (5, Funny)

Seriousity (1441391) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266769)

SIMULANT LIEUTENANT: You have two Earth minutes before we attack.

RIMMER: Let's get out of here.

CAT: Wait, I know this game. It's called cat and mouse, and there's only one way to win; don't be the mouse.

LISTER: What are you saying?

CAT: I'm saying, the mouse never wins. Not unless you believe those lying cartoons. We don't run, we strike. It's the last thing they'll be expecting.

RIMMER: No, the last thing they'll be expecting is for us to turn into ice skating mongooses and to dance the Bolero. And your plan makes about as much sense.

LISTER: I say go with it.

KRYTEN: Agreed.

CAT: You're going to go with one of my plans? Are you nuts? What happens if we all get killed? I'll never hear the last of it!

Re:Oblig. Red Dwarf quote (0)

robbak (775424) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266989)

Your signature does _not_ match your quoting of Red Dwarf.

Re:Oblig. Red Dwarf quote (1)

Seriousity (1441391) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267425)

Whoosh!! [urbandictionary.com]

Re:Oblig. Red Dwarf quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27267709)

Whoosh!! yourself.

This post was made in complete sincere seriousity; as such any attempts to derive humour are doomed to instant failure.

Your signature states that the post was made in seriousness and that it cannot be funny, yet the content of your post was from a comedy show and is funny. robbak is correct that the two do not match.

Re:Oblig. Red Dwarf quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27268251)

I concur with the original Whoosh!! and add an additional Whoosh!! on you. I will provide some analysis to help you understand that strange, strange thing which is "irony".

First, your most significant error in comprehension is when you read the frivolously fabricated word "seriousity" (which one could say does not exist as a commonly accepted word within the standard English lexicon) and interpreted it as identical in meaning to the existing word "seriousness".

The suffix "-ity" is used to mean "quality, state, or degree" (e.g. "alkalinity" representing the degree to which something is alkaline), while the suffix "-ness" is used for "state, condition, quality, or degree". While they mean virtually the same thing, one is the proper suffix to append to "serious", and one is not. Intentionally using an incorrect but more or less equivalent form is a form of humor common among intellectuals. (It is, after all, very closely related to that most venerable of all forms of word-based humor, i.e. the pun.)

If you hadn't bumbled past that obvious tell-tale and thereby failed to understand that the sig was in jest, you would have easily understood "doomed to instant failure" to be humorous hyperbole. It's just another facet of irony, which was so classically defined as "the use of words expressing something other than their literal intention".

Alas, irony is a thinking person's humor.

interesting business behavior (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266801)

Microsoft said it was reviewing TomTom's filing and that it remains committed to a licensing solution and has been for more than a year.

Am I reading this right, "tomtom notified us we are infringing on and profiting from their patent, and we've been trying a combination of ignoring them and trying to make a token payoff to them to make them go away, and now they've had the nerve to sue us over it?"

But what are the patents? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266819)

All we seem to know is that one of them is for long filenames.

Re:But what are the patents? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267107)

Actually the patent to which you refer covers mapping an 8.3 mangled filename such as MICROS~1.ASS to a long filename such as Microsoft Sucks.Ass. UNIX had long filenames from the start if I am not mistaken. I am 100 certain it had them way before the toy company in Redmond.

M$'s great innovation is an artificially imposed limitation, which I suppose is their bread and butter, so I can see why they covet the patent so dearly.

Re:But what are the patents? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267595)

True. Microsoft's long filename patent is on a specific implementation of FAT32 that allows compatibility with 8.3 filenames. The thing is, there are probably many ways of achieving this without violating the patent but none would be Windows compatible.

So Microsoft have a patent on windows file system compatibility.

Re:But what are the patents? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267733)

The missing operative word is innovation . Microsoft has already been found guilty of anti-competitive practice, and it is this very practice that has made their inferior non-innovative filesystem pervasive. So no they do not hold a VALID patent on fat32.

"When did this start?" (3, Funny)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266829)

I am picturing the MS headquarters, and a worried and puzzled Ballmer asking "When did this start, that companies stopped fearing us? And people actually NOT falling in line for each and every new Windows update we shit? And IE's marketshare declining???"

Next scene: chair flies through window.

Re:"When did this start?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27267031)

Followed by trailing cable snagged in Balmers foot, Balmer falls out of window, but he's okay because he's on the ground floor

Re:"When did this start?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27268023)

Balmers office would be in building 34, top floor, actually.

Interestingly enough, I'm told there was a broken window recently.. not sure how true that is though...

red phone to moscow time (1)

nebopolis (953349) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266869)

It is starting to look like the whole patent cold war that has been brewing for quite some time is about to unload. This could get nasty really fast if any more players get pulled in, and might end up with patent holders just unloading their portfolios on each other (and the business equivalent of a nuclear armageddon).

the patent trolls will never come after slashdot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27266895)

slashdot's "innovation" with the new interface sucks donkey balls.

"Committed to a solution"? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27266909)

[Microsoft] remains committed to a licensing solution and has been for more than a year.

Haha, yeah. And when I download a movie from the Pirate Bay and if I get sued for it a year later, can I claim that I "remain committed to a buying solution and have been for more than a year", too?

(Yes, I know, copyright infringement != patent infringement, but seriously, what kind of response is this? If anything, the only thing they're saying there is a) that they acknowledge TomTom has a valid case, and b) yes, they have indeed not licensed the patents in question, despite using them.)

I suck (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27266963)

I'm an ex empeg guy, so I just wana say urrr... microsoft sucks. And america sucks. And joos suck. All my f**kups are because of them, not me. I'm perfect - my expensive public school education told me so.

It is 2009. The binary is no longer the product. (5, Interesting)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 5 years ago | (#27266973)

FTA:

"The case is about TomTom's specific implementation of the Linux kernel, Microsoft said.

That is complete bullshit, and may well be indicative of just how truly clueless M$ is about FOSS. They still think the binary is the product. Since the source code needs to be made available to the end user, the code for VFAT support would be delivered even if not enabled in the build. If they attack anyone, they attack everyone, and they clearly don't get that. It is no wonder they still think they might win in the end.

TomTom enabling the compile flag for VFAT support before doing a make doesn't constitute a "specific implementation". The code is in the vanilla kernel. TomTom didn't add it post facto.

Do they really think we are that stupid, or are they actually that stupid?

Re:It is 2009. The binary is no longer the product (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27267115)

Actually, no, it's a bit of twisted distinction in the law that they're following.

Plans don't infringe. Implementations do.

I can sell a plan to make a patented Widget and don't have to be the Patent holder to do so. MAKING the thing is an actual infringement of the Patent in question.

Source code, as far as the law is concerned, is the plans. The binaries are the implementation.

Re:It is 2009. The binary is no longer the product (1)

richlv (778496) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267485)

so they could implement it in php and be done with that ?
(yeah, filesystem in php. bite me :> )

Lawyers. Now the Largest Industry in the USA (3, Funny)

RotateLeftByte (797477) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267119)

Scene in Office of Microsoft Legal team.

Head Honcho to team:-
Guys, this memo from SB says we may have to take a pay cut like other employees.
What can we do?

One of the team replies meekly:-
Sue someone?

Head Honcho:-
Great Idea. Who?

Another team member replies:-
My new car has this awesome sat nav. Shame it is not made by us

Head Honcho:-
Great. Lets sue them into oblivion. That should keep SB from threatening to cut our salaries.

Two of the team leave muttering
Oh Great. My Tom-Tom is great. Now we will all have to remove them from our cars.
Yeah. How are we going to find our way round this place if we don't have a decent SatNav?
Shhhhhh. If SB hears that you will get your pink slip on the spot.

Re:It is 2009. The binary is no longer the product (2, Insightful)

jgostling (1480343) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267139)

On the other hand, removing the VFAT code could be a derived work (non-infringing Linux kernel), which TomTom distributes together with their product. I don't see why deriving should be restricted just to adding new functionality.

Re:It is 2009. The binary is no longer the product (4, Informative)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267183)

You missed the point, which is that attacking TomTom for using Linux kernel code is attacking Linux kernel code. Their claim is that they are not doing so, when they are in fact clearly doing so.

HTH ;-)

Re:It is 2009. The binary is no longer the product (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27267935)

Yes. They think we are stupid. And they are stupid.

Patent the machine... (3, Interesting)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267061)

...not the way you use it.

In other words, software and business method patents shouldn't #!$#@! exist in the first place.

Although ... (1, Insightful)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267087)

Even though Microsoft streets used to ship with win95, way before TomTom existed, I guess they must have used some new technology to tie into the streets program, that may have come from the likes of TomTom?
I have not RTA so, I am guessing here.

Re:Although ... (3, Informative)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267207)

Even though Microsoft streets used to ship with win95, way before TomTom existed,

someone else who thinks that SatNav is a 21st century invention.

From http://investors.tomtom.com/overview.cfm?Language=1 [tomtom.com]

"TomTom was founded by Harold Goddijn, Peter-Frans Pauwels and Pieter Geelen in 1991"

That'll be 4 years before Win95.

Re:Although ... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267665)

How did their early products work? This predates GPS.

Re:Although ... (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267939)

Their original products were PDA related. They didn't make navigation software until 96 and didn't make GPS devices until 2001/2-ish.

Re:Although ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27267975)

On February 14, 1989, the first modern Block-II GPS satellite was launched.
So GPS dates to at least that early.

Re:Although ... (1)

Binestar (28861) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267231)

Perhaps you shouldn't guess.

TomTom has been around since 1991. I think that is prior to 1995, but I didn't RTA to make sure.

AWESOME!!! (0, Redundant)

EvilIntelligence (1339913) | more than 5 years ago | (#27267239)

Woohoo!!! Go for it TomTom!! Don't put up with their crap!
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