Exploring Local
Mike Dobson of TeleMapics on Local Search and All Things Geospatial

TomTom Sued By Microsoft – What’s the Issue?

February 25th, 2009 by MDob

Before we return to our discussion on Authority and mapping, I thought I would mention the lawsuit Microsoft recently filed against TomTom. Microsoft has alleged that TomTom has infringed eight Microsoft patents. Five of the patents are about navigation or navigation devices, while the other three concern TomTom’s implementation of the Linux kernel.

Those of you who have been in mapping, navigation and GPS for any length of time may wonder why ideas or concepts that you felt were in the public domain when you were working on them, reading about them, or writing about in the 1980’s were the focus of patents issued twenty-years later. The answer to this question requires a deep reading of the patents and specifically their claims, as well as the patent file wrappers. Most cases on patent infringement eventually deal with the issue of the validity of the patent claims over other patents and prior art and I expect that will be a central focus of this case, if TomTom does not sign a license. Given TomTom’s precarious financial position, I suspect they may be willing to negotiate a solution to this lawsuit.

If you want to know more about this case, take a look at the patents that Microsoft believes have been infringed by TomTom. Here are the citations for the patents at the heart or Microsoft’s claims of infringement by TomTom on the navigation and device side of the lawsuit.

Patent 6175789
Vehicle computer system with open platform architecture
(Filed 1999 – issued 2001)

Patent 7,054,745
Method and system for generating driving directions
(Filed 2003-issued 2006.)

Patent 6,704,032
Methods and arrangements for interacting with controllable objects within a Graphical User Interface Environment Using Various Input Mechanisms
(Filed 2000 – issued 2004.)

Patent 7,117,286
Portable computing device-integrated appliance
(Filed 2005 – issued 2006.)

Patent 6,202,008
Vehicle computer system with wireless internet connectivity
(Filed 1999 – issued 2001)

The Linux Related Patents (I did not provide the links but with the information provided you can find them on Google Patents).

Patent 5,579,517
Common name space for long and short filenames
(Filed 1995- issued 1996)

Patent 5,758,352
Common name space for long and short filenames ( This is a “continuation” of the previous patent.)
(filed 1996- issued 1998)

Patent 6,256,642
Method and system for file system management using a flash-erasable, programmable, read-only memory.
(Filed 1992 – issued 2001.)

By the way, if you find the legal issues interesting, you might want to look at this patent by Microsoft ( Patent 7388519 – Displaying points of interest with qualitative information (filed 2004 – issued 2008)), which was recently licensed by 123Map. The license for this patent, which covers the use of points of interest information, is described in this Microsoft press release.

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Posted in Geo-patents, Microsoft, TomTom

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