When Microsoft sued TomTom for patent violations in its Linux-based navigators, it probably didn't figure what would happen next.
Microsoft sued TomTom earlier this month for patent violations around TomTom's use of the FAT32 file system in its Linux-based navigators. Although TomTom is one of the world's leading brands of navigator, it's still a minnow-sized company compared to Microsoft, and the tech community speculated that it probably lacked the resources to fight.
That is until now. TomTom has joined the OIN (Open Invitation Network), which is an intellectual property company which was formed to promote the various open-source Linux platforms by creating a collaborative ecosystem and community amongst members. Among the members of the group are Novell, IBM, Sony and Red Hat.
With OIN on its side, it automatically has the support of Linux Defenders
, a group sponsored by various Linux organisations which pulls out all the stops to stop frivolous patent-warfare lawsuits against Linux. The organisation is backed by the SFLC (Software Freedom Law Center) and the Linux Foundation, as well as OIN.
TomTom has also taken the fight right back to Microsoft,
and has issued a countersuit against Microsoft for the violation of
four of its patents in the Microsoft Streets and Trips program. (Honestly, why does 'big-tech' always sue over patents like this ... the outcome is so predictable. A whole lot of money gets spent on lawyers, and they end up writing a cross-licencing deal.)
One thing about open source is that it works to promote open
development, and after years of fighting governments over monopolistic bully tactics, Microsoft is quite possibly treading on some very thin ice around antitrust
issues if it continues to attack companies that use Linux in its attempt to shut down its open-source competitor.
Put simply: it's Microsoft prerogative to continue this, but although Linux may look like the weakling of the class financially, there's a hell of a lot of money riding on its ongoing freedom and success -- just look what happened to SCO.