Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Nick Basinger, Kevin Benedict, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Lori MacVittie

Related Topics: Microsoft Cloud, Mobile IoT, Linux Containers

Microsoft Cloud: Article

Microsoft Sues TomTom’s Embedded Linux for Patent Infringement

The Redmond software powerhouse has sued only two other companies for patent infringement in its whole life

Well, it’s finally happened. Microsoft, which has only sued two other companies for patent infringement in its whole life, is exercising its patent rights over Linux and suing TomTom, the Dutch-based portable GPS device house, for ignoring its pleas to license its patents like other GPS system makers have.  It accuses TomTom of both direct infringement and induced infringement.

Actually Microsoft is suing TomTom on eight counts of patent infringement, five of which have nothing at all to do with Linux. But the other three do and that’s what’s bound to make a big noise.

Click here to view a PDF of the Verified Complaint

In fact Microsoft is trying not to make too big a deal of the matter and is issuing statements saying, “Open source software is not the focal point of this action. The case against TomTom, a global commercial manufacturer and seller of proprietary embedded hardware devices, involves infringement of Microsoft patents by TomTom devices that employ both proprietary and open source software code.”

That’s hardly the point.

For years now Microsoft has claimed that Linux infringes on its IP but it has never substantiated those claims in any way. This is the first time it has put some meat on the bone or even identified some of its claimed IP.

Besides filing suit Wednesday in federal court in its hometown of Seattle, Microsoft also took its case to the International Trade Commission (ITC) in D.C. asking that TomTom’s Chinese-made widgets be barred from U.S. shores.

The stubby lawsuit is a dry, colorless affair that never mentions Linux; the 25-page ITC complaint, even in its redacted form, is more substantive. And the three “Linux” patents are the core of its complaint.

According to Microsoft’s story it has been chasing TomTom for over a year trying to get it to license its patents. That’s why its suit demands treble damages for willful and deliberate trespass.

The three provocative Linux-involving patents that Microsoft says TomTom is treading on are U.S. patents 5,579,517 and 5,758,352 both entitled “Common Name Space for Long and Short File Names” and 6,256,642 entitled “Method and System for File System Management Using a Flash-Erasable, Programmable, Read-only Memory.”

Microsoft explains to the ITC that TomTom’s GPS widgets run a version of Linux and that Linux “and/or the software applications supported by the operating system also provide the devices with additional functionality such as file system support for long and short file names, memory management for flash memory commonly used on such devices, and a platform for integrating and controlling various electronic components used with the portable navigation computing devices, such as other components in a vehicle.”

Microsoft says patents ‘517 and ‘352 “describe an innovative system that both supports long file names and maintains compatibility with file name system and applications that are aware of only short file names” so “a short file name system can read the directory entry containing the short file name but will ignore the directory entry (or entries) containing the long file name. A long file name system can access and manipulate these long file names and so in such a way as to ensure compatibility with the short file name system.”

Microsoft also explains that “file systems are the part of an operating system that manages files on a storage device. A common way of managing files is to use a hierarchical structure, often referred to as ‘folders’ or ‘directories.’ These directories contain files and often other directories or subdirectories. These traditional file systems were designed for ‘multiple-write’ devices rather than ‘single-write’ devices such as flash memory. The ‘642 patent describes a file system that supports the byte-addressable and block-erasable nature of flash memory, while providing support for a file system offering the functionality of traditional file systems.’

Click Here to See PDF of Microsoft's Complaint for Patent Infringement

Microsoft says it uses ‘517 and ‘352 in Vista and XP (remember FAT16) and ‘642 is used in Windows CE.

Microsoft also tells the ITC – in case the open source community thinks it’ll just get the patents declared invalid – that both ‘517 and ‘352 withstood re-examination by the Patent and Trademark Office. Both were issued in 1996 and reconfirmed 10 years later. Patent ‘642 dates to July of 2001.

There appear to be both Canadian and German counterparts to ‘517 and ‘352 that Microsoft has challenged.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Early Bird Registration Discount Expires on August 31, 2018 Conference Registration Link ▸ HERE. Pick from all 200 sessions in all 10 tracks, plus 22 Keynotes & General Sessions! Lunch is served two days. EXPIRES AUGUST 31, 2018. Ticket prices: ($1,295-Aug 31) ($1,495-Oct 31) ($1,995-Nov 12) ($2,500-Walk-in)
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
The challenges of aggregating data from consumer-oriented devices, such as wearable technologies and smart thermostats, are fairly well-understood. However, there are a new set of challenges for IoT devices that generate megabytes or gigabytes of data per second. Certainly, the infrastructure will have to change, as those volumes of data will likely overwhelm the available bandwidth for aggregating the data into a central repository. Ochandarena discusses a whole new way to think about your next...
CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
All in Mobile is a place where we continually maximize their impact by fostering understanding, empathy, insights, creativity and joy. They believe that a truly useful and desirable mobile app doesn't need the brightest idea or the most advanced technology. A great product begins with understanding people. It's easy to think that customers will love your app, but can you justify it? They make sure your final app is something that users truly want and need. The only way to do this is by ...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Big Data Federation to Exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO, colocated with DevOpsSUMMIT and DXWorldEXPO, November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Big Data Federation, Inc. develops and applies artificial intelligence to predict financial and economic events that matter. The company uncovers patterns and precise drivers of performance and outcomes with the aid of machine-learning algorithms, big data, and fundamental analysis. Their products are deployed...