OMGZ, the sensationalism!

Story: Microsoft Sues Linux For Patent InfringementTotal Replies: 20
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Feb 26, 2009
9:08 AM EST
AFAICT, Microsoft is suing TomTom for patent infringement, not Linux.

Feb 26, 2009
10:08 AM EST
I agree, I as a loyal LX'er RSS feed fan am very disappointed in this sensationalism. I don't like FUD no matter who it comes from. Stay on point and stay honest or lose respect.

Feb 26, 2009
10:29 AM EST
From the Register (

"And according to TechFlash, three of the eight patents Microsoft has contested relate to TomTom’s implementation of the Linux kernel."

Feb 26, 2009
10:49 AM EST
TT uses linux , and my guess is that M$ (who made 'deals' with Ford /Siemens/etc..) wants this :

so... its 'indirec't an attack on linux me thinks...

Feb 26, 2009
10:56 AM EST
MS can't sue Linux. It can sue commercial vendors who use it, and try to put a big scare on, "If you use Linux we will sue you." This isn't the best article, but it takes about a minute to find a skillion of them that link to the court filings, and so we learn that their patent on the FAT filesystem is one of the patents they're suing for. The Linux kernel has a FAT driver, so it's a very short leap from "suing TomTom" to "suing Linux."

MS has been making patent threats against Linux for years, and have been strong-arming hundreds of companies into paying for MS patent licenses. So another thing that makes this newsworthy is TomTom is fighting back instead of rolling over.

LWN has a short article with a lot of good comments.


Feb 26, 2009
12:24 PM EST
6175789, 7054745, 6704032, 6202008

Those four should be very easy to get tossed on Prior art. One needs only to read Robert Heinliens Number of the Beast circa 1979 and 1980, for prior art on all four counts.

That will be a problem for Microsoft, patenting a technological concept, because odds are better than not, that Heinlien or Asimov had and published either the very idea, or one so substantially similar as to be identical.

5579517 and 5758352

Might be able to be tossed on obviousness thanks to Unix itself, but that would be a stretch. These are the two file system patents. It would be kind of fun to have them call Hans Reiser in as an expert witness here though dont you think.


Is really very simple to toss as prior art, as I know for certain and work on systems that predate that patent that use flash eproms to hold data. If that one survives even a cursory evaluation it will be nothing short of a miracle.

Although there are no sureties once lawyers get involved, if someone like myself can come up with holes large enough to drive a truck through using nothing more than a love of science fiction and google ... Lets just say that flimsy is the best way to describe this case.


The links to the patents can be found on TC's lwn link.

Feb 26, 2009
1:15 PM EST
I doubt Microsoft has any intention of going to trial. I find it to be more than a coincidence that they would file their first such lawsuit when the economy is in the toilet and we are going through a severe credit crunch. I do not know anything about TomTom's financial condition. I'd be willing to bet that Microsoft has a lot more cash on hand than TomTom.

Feb 26, 2009
3:15 PM EST
>I'd be willing to bet that Microsoft has a lot more cash on hand than TomTom.

sure is :

on the other hand , there is that well-known 'dutch stubborness'..... ;-P

Feb 26, 2009
6:27 PM EST
I'm thinking this is more what I like to call a "lawsiege" - Microsoft perhaps hopes to starve TomTom of time and money via the legal system until they are forced to surrender (preferably before having to defend the legitimacy of their patents in court).

Kind of like what SCO tried, only with someone that ISN'T a wealthy and powerful corporation like IBM...

Feb 26, 2009
6:51 PM EST
People use Microsoft because they have to.

People use TomTom because they (usually) want to.

Yes, we can debate the finer points of that, but Microsoft is not doing itself any PR favors with these suits.

Feb 26, 2009
8:25 PM EST
I am curious to know where the free software legal foundation is on this one?

Feb 26, 2009
9:57 PM EST
Head on over to They seem upbeat about this.

Feb 27, 2009
8:11 AM EST
but Microsoft is not doing itself any PR favors with these suits.


Feb 27, 2009
9:05 AM EST
When did Microsoft care about PR?

Feb 27, 2009
5:53 PM EST
They care about PR right now more than they did, say, three years ago.

First, their latest-and-allegedly-greatest OS has severely damaged the Microsoft brand.

Second, data security is taking more of the public mindshare, and Microsoft has a very un-stellar record in this.

Third, they have a product release approaching, and they need to convince people and companies to spend their hard-earned money on it.

Fourth, their own PR department has done its own foot-shooting recently (Jerry Seinfeld, anyone?).

If they keep this up, the court of public opinion will be very harsh in its verdict, and no patent attorney's case, spurious or otherwise, will remedy that.

Feb 27, 2009
6:39 PM EST
Quoting:5579517 and 5758352

Might be able to be tossed on obviousness thanks to Unix itself, but that would be a stretch.

They won't be. These are the heavily litigated FAT32 patents the FSF has been warning about. They have been litigated extensively and MS won. The patents stand. The only thing that's changed since then is the Bliski case. You'd have to go over those patents and see if there's anything in there that would enable you to toss them out under the Bliski decision. Anything else probably won't stick.

Feb 28, 2009
1:07 AM EST
Sander not quite, those didnt go to court, they went under review at the patent office, were invalidated and then reinstated upon appeal. With them hitting the courts (for the first time) its a whole new ball game, every argument, comment, and discussion is now brand new. It's now all about convincing a judge whose version of reality is correct at any given moment.

There is also the problem for MS that those two patents are already under challenge (in germany I believe, I could be wrong).

Feb 28, 2009
3:49 AM EST
I don't think US courts look to European courts much when it comes to patents. If those two patents get overthrown in Germany I don't think it will affect the court case which is strictly in the US IIRC.

Feb 28, 2009
5:04 PM EST
I do think that if Microsoft is successful against Tom Tom in any meaningful way they will go after companies like Red Hat, Novell, HP, Intel, Canonical, etc... unless offending code is removed. Microsoft clearly now sees Linux as a threat. How much damage they can do really depends on which patents are upheld and which are not.

Imagine, for example, that the patents for FAT and FAT32 are upheld but not others. What Microsoft can then do is destroy a lot of Linux/Windows interoperability unless Linux distributors fork over royalties. Remember that even shops that are heavily Linux/UNIX in the server room still tend to be Windows shops on the desktop.

Of course, this could work one of two ways. It could hurt Linux in the server room or companies could decide to go Linux on the desktop.

Mar 02, 2009
6:39 PM EST
Quoting:When did Microsoft care about PR

Well, at least now it becomes obvious there are merits in 'open standards' when it comes to filesystems, and the drawbacks of using closed standards become clear.

Every firm is using FAT nowadays without thinking (most of them pay anyway when asked), and hopefully cases like this might change that 'unconscious' flock-behaviour in the future.

Quoting:if Microsoft is successful against Tom Tom in any meaningful way they will go after companies like Red Hat, Novell, HP, Intel, Canonical, etc.

You're a bit late, they - meaning Novell and Red Hat - are already involved it seems:


Mar 20, 2009
5:39 AM EST
>on the other hand , there is that well-known 'dutch stubborness'..... ;-P

TomTom countersues Microsoft in patent dispute

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