Microsoft goes after TomTom -- and Linux

The Linux community has a message to Microsoft: Back off

Microsoft's decision to sue TomTom International -- and in the process take on Linux -- isn't likely to affect your use of Linux. As of now, that's the consensus among experts.

But if Microsoft wants a fight -- oh boy, is the open-source community ready for it.

First, it should be noted that Microsoft is claiming its lawsuit, made public this week, isn't really about Linux or open source. Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of intellectual property and licensing, said that while "three of the infringed patents implicate open-source code ... open-source software is not the focal point of this action."

Nonetheless, Andrew Updegrove, a partner at Boston law firm Gesmer Updegrove is concerned that Microsoft has been getting more aggressive about approaching companies and their use of Linux. "I've received e-mail in the past from people that Microsoft has approached, alleging Linux infringement and saying 'You better get a license from us, or else,'" Updegrove said.

On the other hand, moving aggressively against Linux "doesn't make sense to me, because I can't think of any reason why they should move now and several reasons why they should not: the [European Union] is still on their tail regarding browsers (and Gooble [sic] just joined in against them), and there's a new administration in town in Washington -- why test them at this point in time, rather than lie low and watch for awhile and see whether antitrust enforcement is back in town?"

Updegrove isn't the only one who's puzzled by Microsoft's move. Eben Moglen, a Columbia University law professor and co-author of the primary open-source license -- the General Public License, Version 3 (GPLv3), called it "a little mystifying. The FAT (File Allocation Table) patents aren't the strongest ammo in anyone's gun. This will do harm to their free-software co-existence process, which has had some viability. This will harm Microsoft credibility with free software.

"My job is to keep the community safe from aggression," Moglen said. "We need peace and that implies co-existence."

And if Microsoft wants to make a fight of it? "I'm sure that all free software parties, both community and corporate, will join together to formulate a measured, united response," added Moglen.

That's exactly what the Linux Foundation and the Open Invention Network seem to be doing. Jim Zemlin, the Linux Foundation's executive director, wrote in a public blog: "Right now, the Microsoft claim against TomTom is a private dispute between those two entities concerning GPS mapping software. We do not feel assumptions should be made about the scope or facts of this case and its inclusion, if any, of Linux-related technology."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Linuxtomtomautomotive ITMicrosoftGPS

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?