TomTom gets Linux patent help from OIN

From the ‘friends in high places‘ files:

TomTom is adding a little more muscle to its patent fight against Microsoft. The navigation vendor today announced that it has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN) as a licensee. TomTom is in a back and forth patent battle with Microsoft — with at least four patents specifically related to Linux

The OIN is group that is all about helping Linux and open source vendors share patents in a royalty free manner in order to futher encourage open source technology adoption. Though TomTom was not officially a member prior to today, the OIN as well as the Linux Foundation have previously pledged to defend against any patent claims against Linux.

“Linux plays an important role at TomTom as the core of all our Portable Navigation Devices,” said Peter Spours, director of IP at TomTom in a statement. “We believe that by becoming an Open Invention Network licensee, we encourage Linux development and foster innovation in a technical community that benefits everyone.”

How TomTom’s involvement in OIN may actually impact the case against Microsoft is obvious to me.

TomTom is now pulling in the big patent holders (like IBM) that are part of OIN and making this a wider patent issue than just one of Microsoft vs a little GPS navigation vendor. Then again, from the first day that Microsoft made its allegations, the Linux community has made this a bigger issue.

Time will tell how this whole thing will ultimately get resolved — but if I had to wager a guess what will happen, I’d say that we may end up seeing some kind of cross-licensing for TomTom and Microsoft patents.

Or the other potential scenario is more interesting — maybe Microsoft will open up, join OIN and end the Linux patent threat forever. That sure would be something, wouldn’t it?

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