Wednesday, April 8, 2009

TomTom Settles Patent Dispute with Microsoft

TomTom and Microsoft have settle their patent war disputes. Microsoft will be receiving an undisclosed amount of money from TomTom for the next two years. While TomTom removes any infringing code from all of their devices. What is the psychological effect of the news? From a Microsoft share holder perspective this is a win for Microsoft. After all Microsoft forced TomTom to give them money based on their patents. So, the patents are not worthless as the Linux community had complained. Microsoft continues to rule the software industry and everything is back to normal. Life continues to make sense and America is still the land of the free.

On the other hand, Microsoft was forced to settle with TomTom. As the alternatives could have been much worst. The Open Invention Network with their lawyers and patents could of taken Microsoft down. However, the process of counter suing is not particularly fun. As no company wants to be in a patent dispute against another company. It could bring about uncertainty to the company due to the risk of losing. Stock holders are very nervous people and may shy away from companies especially if they are fighting against Microsoft.

Not much was said about Microsoft's other patents. The patents that states companies pay Microsoft money for any portable computer device attached to a car. Nobody mention these patents in the settlement. Are we to believe that basically these patents were canceled due to TomTom's counter suit patents. This is the only plausible conclusion I could come up with.

In the end, will TomTom continue to use the fat file system or will they take a chance and begin to use an open source file system like ext2 or ext3 on their devices. If they use an open source file system, it could send a strong message to other device vendors to also change. The only problem is that Microsoft still rules 88% of the desktop world wide. How will Microsoft XP or Windows 7 be able to read ext2? This is the challenge for TomTom to solve in the next 2 years. The success of such an initiative will allow other vendors to include ext2 file system in their products. The end game is to move away from proprietary software and into patent free open source software. This will empower vendors to compete fairly in any market and provide better products and services to the end users at the lowest price possible.

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