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TomTom Settles With Microsoft 273

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the caves-not-just-for-bears dept.
Surrounded writes "It appears TomTom bowed to the pressure and settled with Microsoft over the recent patent infringement claims from the Redmond software giant. In the agreement, TomTom will pay Microsoft for coverage under the eight car navigation and file management systems patents in the Microsoft case. Also as part of the agreement, Microsoft receives coverage under the four patents included in the TomTom counter-suit. TomTom also has to remove functionality related to two file management system patents (the 'FAT LFN patents')."
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TomTom Settles With Microsoft

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  • ...weak sauce.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SirGarlon (845873)
      Yeah. Without a court ruling one way or the other, we have no indication whether Microsoft's strategy Free/Open Source software using patents (see the Halloween Documents) [wikipedia.org] will be upheld by the courts. That sword is still dangling over Linux and other F/OSS developers.
      • by tepples (727027) <<tepples> <at> <gmail.com>> on Monday March 30, 2009 @03:55PM (#27393361) Homepage Journal
        True, a settlement out of court says nothing about the patents' validity or other merits of the case. But it does say something about the conditions under which a patent holder is willing to license a patent.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        I understand why TomTom settled, but (IANAL) I'd give odds that the FAT LFN patents are invalid under Bilski.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by EkriirkE (1075937)
          LFN is an enhancement to FAT that is not a requirement, it just prettifies.
  • by dwheeler (321049) on Monday March 30, 2009 @03:53PM (#27393321) Homepage Journal
    I wish TomTom had fought this; the FAT patents are utter nonsense. But patent fights are notoriously expensive, so I understand why TomTom did this instead. In the long term, I hope that software patents get eliminated [dwheeler.com], but that will have to wait for another day.
    • I wish TomTom had fought this; the FAT patents are utter nonsense. But patent fights are notoriously expensive, so I understand why TomTom did this instead. In the long term, I hope that software patents get eliminated [dwheeler.com], but that will have to wait for another day.

      What really need to happen is something similar to what happened to the GIF file format. In that case it was decided to develop a new image file format called PNG. There is room for doing the same thing with the file system. Although FAT is common, if everyone could agree an open alternative, and then encourage hardware manufacturers to provide the necessary drivers to Windows users, then we could finally move forward.

      • by Viol8 (599362) on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:10PM (#27393553)

        in fact so many that the choice itself could be the problem. Manufacturers can't see a single other format they could settle on that everyone else will agree to so they choose the lowest common denominator - FAT.

        • in fact so many that the choice itself could be the problem. Manufacturers can't see a single other format they could settle on that everyone else will agree to so they choose the lowest common denominator - FAT.

          True, but this is where someone has to find something that offers something equivalent and easily implementable. Of course, the sad reality is that waiting for the patent to expire might just be the easiest solution - BTW does anyone know when the patents expire?

          ZFS looks like an interesting possibi

          • UDF (Score:3, Insightful)

            by tepples (727027)

            True, but this is where someone has to find something that offers something equivalent and easily implementable.

            I believe it's called Live File System [wikipedia.org] by Microsoft and Universal Disk Format [wikipedia.org] by everyone else. Any OS with DVD-ROM support can read UDF. Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows Vista can write UDF, and so can Windows 5 (2000 and XP) with common CD-RW software.

            Of course, the sad reality is that waiting for the patent to expire might just be the easiest solution - BTW does anyone know when the patents expire?

            They were filed during the development of Windows 95; add twenty years.

        • by kyz (225372) on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:42PM (#27393975) Homepage

          The reason they don't is that the only format which works out-of-the-box almost ubiquitously on desktop computers is FAT. That's why FAT is the de-facto standard flash memory filesystem.

          Microsoft Windows only supports FAT and NTFS for reliable read-write access. That's about 90% of all desktop computers. Most other popular operating systems support FAT well, but few support NTFS well. Hence FAT.

          It's entirely Microsoft's doing. If you wanted some other filesystem to replace FAT, it could only be another filesystem fully supported by Microsoft Windows, otherwise it wouldn't be out-of-the-box compatible with over 90% of desktop computers and thus would be trounced by anything that was.

          • by jedidiah (1196)

            Have you actually used a flash drive lately?

            They are more than capable of installing their own stuff. It's a big of a scourge actually.

            Instead of that stupid "backup" stuff, they could install drivers for the fs of their choice.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by cavtroop (859432)

              um, what about using it on machines that I don't have admin access on?

              Machines I may not want another file system driver on?

              Library machines, corp machines, etc.?

            • by Dynedain (141758)

              And how do they do that? By having a FAT partition that the crapware resides on.

              So you're still stuck with using FAT and risking patent problems.

          • by afidel (530433) on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:49PM (#27394143)
            Going forward you should be able to use UDF across all platforms since Vista, Linux, BSD, Solaris, and OS/2 all have read/write drivers for it, but it might be a bit of time before it's universally accepted since XP can't write to it or read version 2.5+ volumes.
            • OS/2?? Really?

            • by Darinbob (1142669)

              UDF is also not nearly as easily implementable as FAT. Especially the later versions which add all sorts of stuff unnecessary to the simple interchange of files, and especially on tiny computers with tiny CPUs and very limited memory. UDF also takes up a significant amount of overhead space if you use small media (yes, some people still use floppies or flash media smaller than 1MB).

              As for versions, if you want UDF to be universally accepted, then stick to version 1.50 without VATs.

            • How many of these operating systems have you actually tried creating / using a UDF partition with? The Wikipedia list is very optimistic about support for UDF. Pretty much anything can read it (or, at least, some versions of it), but writing it is a lot less reliable.
          • by slash.duncan (1103465) on Monday March 30, 2009 @06:34PM (#27395601) Homepage

            TomTom's problem wasn't FAT, the 8.3 filename version, but LFN aka VFAT, and AFAIK, reading them isn't covered, only writing. The MS patents are specifically on the long file name stuff, apparently only on writing, and any patents on the original 8.3 format will have expired by now. Since with USB it's the host that controls the writing, TomTom's window of patent vulnerability on that particular patent is quite small anyway, and it's entirely possible to avoid infringement, especially since from all reports I've seen the TomTom devices themselves don't expose the filenames they are working with.

            It's actually quite possible that TomTom wasn't actually using the LFN code anyway, but was simply shipping it as it was configured in their default Linux kernel load. As such, it should be fairly trivial to simply avoid turning on that option, and if necessary, rewriting any other code that they had internally that expected the LFN so it works with the 8.3 name.

            Thus, the case never really was about the FAT LFN patents in the first place. It was simply one more arrow in the legal quiver that MS unloaded on TomTom. It was the other patents, including the broad mobile computer mounted in a car patent and a couple of the navigation patents, at issue.

            That's why it's possible for TomTom to take the easy way out of this one. The GPL "live free or die" clause need not be invoked since they can simply toggle off the VFAT functionality (and if necessary entirely patch the code out of what they ship) in their shipping kernels, and they can license the other patents without triggering the "live free or die" clause since their userspace code didn't need covered under the GPL.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Tony Hoyle (11698) *

              especially since from all reports I've seen the TomTom devices themselves don't expose the filenames they are working with.

              Which reports would these be.. the ones from people who have never used a TomTom?

              All a tomtom basically is to a PC is an external drive (actually two, for the models with internal and addon flash separate) - then the TomTom software reads and writes files to it. This includes the OS (linux) and boot files, so LFN is pretty much required, unless TomTom have a version of Linux that can b

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by pembo13 (770295)

          I'm sure manufactures can find one format that works on Linux and Mac. The only real problem is Windows.

      • by renoX (11677) on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:31PM (#27393781)

        [[ What really need to happen is something similar to what happened to the GIF file format.]]

        Given that the GIF format is still more used than the PNG format, I wouldn't use this as a basis for what 'need to happen' more of an example of the *success* of 'submarine patents' (let something patented be used for free for a long time then make users pay): even when there is a better technical solution, it most probably won't be used due to the 'network effect'.

      • by Millennium (2451) on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:36PM (#27393837) Homepage

        Unfortunately, open alternatives are only feasible for a limited time: once the proprietary lock-in "standard" gets too common, open alternatives are pretty much condemned to also-ran status.

        Consider PNG. It's a great format, and I prefer it over GIF whenever possible, but the fact remains that by the time real PNG support got widespread enough matter, the GIF patents had expired and so the original point of PNG was moot.

        FAT, sad as it is, seems to be in the same position as GIF was. It's so widespread that by the time any open alternative could possibly take hold, it won't matter anymore because the invalid patents on FAT will be dead anyway.

        • by the time real PNG support got widespread enough matter, the GIF patents had expired and so the original point of PNG was moot.

          Not necessarily. Servers that allow members of the public to upload images can block distracting animations by blocking GIF. The use of more than 256 colors is also a lot cleaner in PNG; GIF requires multiple layers, each adding 255 more colors to the image.

      • What really need to happen is something similar to what happened to the GIF file format. In that case it was decided to develop a new image file format called PNG. There is room for doing the same thing with the file system. Although FAT is common, if everyone could agree an open alternative, and then encourage hardware manufacturers to provide the necessary drivers to Windows users, then we could finally move forward.

        You mean like? http://www.fs-driver.org/ [fs-driver.org] Now just go and convince everyone to use it. :)

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        A new file system won't help with the existing systems out there. It would only help new systems. FAT is the defacto standard for interchange precisely because older systems use it. So you create a new file systems that everyone uses, but you still end up required to support FAT to save traces from oscilloscopes, to get files off of your digital camera's CompactFlash, to print photos on some printers, to print files at the local copy shop, to update firmware in countless hardware devices, etc.

        Notice how

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MrLint (519792)

        There is another way, but its not much better.

        If USB devices were to show up as 'network adapters' with some kinda minimal IP stack, then it could be a network storage device and the vendor's software can talk to whatever the back end device's native file system is, by even as something as crazy as WebDAV.

        The benefit is that you have totally abstracted the device from the host OS, and the benefit is platform neutrality.

        • There's already a standard for file-based accesses to USB devices. It's called PTP [wikipedia.org] and it's what many cameras use. It shouldn't be too hard to adapt for more general FS access.

      • Why bother? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by westlake (615356)
        Although FAT is common, if everyone could agree an open alternative, and then encourage hardware manufacturers to provide the necessary drivers to Windows users, then we could finally move forward.

        FAT is more than common.

        When the talk turns to pocketable media, it is all but universal - and close on to thirty years old.

        The HP on your desktop has a 15 in 1 card reader.

        2 cartridge slots for HP's USB media drives. 4-6 USB ports "out back" and maybe a Firewire port or two.

        So much for getting the hardware

    • by codepunk (167897) on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:07PM (#27393521)

      The US govt does not have enough money to fight MS how do you expect TomTom to do it.

  • Sue users (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Monday March 30, 2009 @03:53PM (#27393333) Homepage

    Um lol?

    Anyway, there wasn't any details on the removed functionality, or any side effects. I don't want to download a minor update to my device and suddenly lose something.

  • Good! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It's time to put OSS freeloaders/thieves to the sword! Go Microsoft!!!

  • So, Microsoft wins? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday March 30, 2009 @03:57PM (#27393381) Journal

    Remember kids, if you're going to build a Linux-based device and distribute it in the USA, remove the FAT driver and include an ext2fs IFS driver on your install CD.

    • Actually, this case is far simpler than that.

      Remember, kids, don't try patent-troll Microsoft - they have their own patents to fight back. This equally applies to any large company.

      (in case anyone missed the timeline, it was TomTom who started the patent war here, not MS)

    • by Andy_R (114137)

      Or just wait until 2013 when the patent expires?

    • WTF? The entire first paragraph of my post vanished some time between hitting preview and submit. Good job, Slashdot 2.0. Originally, I wrote something along the lines of:

      TomTom has, by agreeing to this settlement, publicly declared that they believe that the FAT patents are valid. Clause 7 of the GPL states that you may not distribute the GPL'd software if doing so would require a patent license that is not sublicensable in a way compatible with the GPL. This means that distributing Linux in the USA,

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Monday March 30, 2009 @03:57PM (#27393383)
    FAT is so... 1980's. Although it's a pity TomTom had to settle, FAT support seems like a feature unlikely to be missed.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jperl (1453911)
      Well how are your usb sticks formatted? Also if you have dual boot windows/linux on your computer, FAT partitions are really easy to handle from both windows and linux. Truly FAT is not the best file system, but it is still widely used.
    • Yes, but (Score:3, Informative)

      by Cajun Hell (725246)

      FAT is so... 1980's

      FAT legacy support is so .. 1990s. And that's why such archaic crap is still in the patent window.

      • Legacy? Windows Me was the launched in 2000, and did not support any hard disk filesystems other than FAT. Windows NT 4 did not support FAT32, so you were stuck with FAT16 if you wanted to dual-boot. Windows XP was the first consumer operating system from Redmond to support NTFS and move FAT to the legacy pile. A lot of users did not upgrade immediately, so 2003-4 is probably around the time when most desktops were running an OS which had a better option than FAT as a filesystem.
  • Kudos to everyone who predicted just this. Microsoft doesn't get any money for driving a potential customer away (i.e. tomtom is now a customer of microsoft's patent portfolio), they also get to play with tomtom's patents to better their products. Why does anybody get alarmed when there's a patent suit between two PRODUCTIVE companies? Microsoft is not a pure patent troll, they make more money through using patents than licensing fees. It seems like that cross-licensing agreements rarely start out with a ni
    • by cheesybagel (670288) on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:17PM (#27393627)
      Because it seems in the end TomTom has to remove FAT LFN support after all. I also note that in cases where one of the offending parties has less or less notable patents than the other there is usually a cash offset. I hope this drives to the home that FAT is *not* suitable has a standard filesystem for interoperability and people start using ISO9660, or whatever.
      • ISO9660 is not suitable for read-write filesystems. Various versions of UDF are, but support is very varied across operating systems. What are the other options? NTFS? Even more patent-encumbered, and still only just has write support on most platforms. Ext2fs? No support on OS X, although there's a BSDL version in the FreeBSD kernel that could probably be ported. UFS? Not a bad idea in theory, except that there are at least four incompatible implementations...
    • by icebike (68054)

      Why does anybody get alarmed when there's a patent suit between two PRODUCTIVE companies?

      Because Microsoft's intent is to kill Linux with patents, by getting each vendor (TomTom, Red Hat, Novell, etc) to include patented crap into Linux. Death by a thousand paper cuts.

      How successful they will be with this is anyone's guess.

      At least TomTom removed the Long File Name support rather than licensing that, which would probably have brought an immediate law suit from FSF, as it would have been admission that long file names on FAT are patentable. They side stepped the issue. Nothing is solved.

      Don't

  • by should_be_linear (779431) on Monday March 30, 2009 @03:58PM (#27393405)
    I believe they needed to settle, because of maps. There are only two companies owning global map data, one is owned by TomTom and another by Nokia. Nokia is already competitor, so there was no way for MS to alienate TomTom for a long time. Without maps MSN would collapse under the weight of Google more then it already does.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jnnnnn (1079877)

      I don't believe you. I can name more than that off the top of my head.

      Mapdata Sciences

      Navteq

      Digital Globe

      USGS

      They may not all have complete sets of road data, but I'm sure there are more than two.

  • by syousef (465911) on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:00PM (#27393437) Journal

    Shouldn't that be TomTom settles with MicrosoftMicrosoft???

  • So that essentially says that Microsoft won, and TomTom got their butts kicked. Removing functionality does not sound like cross licensing, it sounds like knuckling under and making a show of trading patent licensing on some other meaningless issues to save face.

    Does this also mean that Long File Names may be infringing in Samba?

    Does this mean that TOMTOM is in trouble with FOSS, since they can't pass on these cross licensed features free and clear?

    • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:11PM (#27393557)

      The article states:

      Microsoft has previously stated that this lawsuit represents an isolated issue and that the company does not intend to broadly sue Linux users.

      I remember when the news of the dispute first became known, it was widely speculated that TomTom threatened Microsoft with some possible patent infringements made by Microsoft Streets, and Microsoft threaten to defend itself by making enforcing a patent claim on FAT.

      In other words, TomTom tried to get a better deal, Microsoft called their bluff, and TomTom folded their hand.

      • You know it's been a long day when you mentally delete the word "making" rather than actually doing it in the sentence "... by making enforcing a patent claim..." above.
      • by renoX (11677)

        [[In other words, TomTom tried to get a better deal, Microsoft called their bluff, and TomTom folded their hand.]]

        How do you know this? Perhaps TomTom got the better deal!
        Were the financial aspects of the initial proposal and of the settlement disclosed?

      • In other words, TomTom tried to get a better deal, Microsoft called their bluff, and TomTom folded their hand.

        A poker analogy? Really?

        I demand a car analogy. I'll make it myself - it's a simple game of chicken.

        TomTom is driving a mid-size sedan. Microsoft is driving a semi. TomTom pulls onto the patent infringement claim one-lane road, heading west. Microsoft pulls onto the same road, one mile west of TomTom, heading east. The wind is blowing from the SW at 40 knots, and road conditions are icy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)
        Of course they won't sue Linux users, that would be bad PR. Fortunately for them, the GPL means that they don't have to. All they have to do is find some proxy with code in the Linux kernel (or in Samba) who has standing to sue anyone distributing their code for violating clause 7 of the GPL by distributing their code linked against code which requires a patent license. Microsoft can then stand there and say 'we're not suing anyone, look what a legal minefield that nasty Linux thing is'. As a bonus, thi
    • by EvilRyry (1025309)

      I don't believe the implementation of long file names in SMB have anything to do with long file names in FAT32.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zombie Ryushu (803103)

      Samba doesn't implement vFAT, it implements SMB. So Samba has nothing to do with this.

      However, F/OSS could have a huge fight on its hands. The fact is, that everything uses vFAT. Nobody really supports anything else. The Linux Kernel has a vFAT module in it. Microsoft could say the vFAT Module has to be removed from the Kernel. If M$ Does, then, the entire Linux population is infringing. (Face it, we all HAVE to have FAT.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by icebike (68054)

        Note that they never sere alleging violation of FAT32 patents, merely long name support.

        When you say "Nobody supports anything else" I presume you mean in small devices, cameras, phones, thumb drives, etc.

        But use of other file systems on such devices would be no worse than distributing drivers (like was done for Win98) and using EXT2/3/4.

        A high quality windows driver released free and clear for that pretty much flips the coin on Microsoft. There are several of these out there: ( http://www.fs-driver.org/ [fs-driver.org]

        • But use of other file systems on such devices would be no worse than distributing drivers (like was done for Win98)

          On what media, formatted in what file system, would you distribute drivers? One solution under Windows 98 was to distribute them on a floppy, which doesn't work on newer PCs that lack a floppy drive, and besides, floppies are formatted FAT. Another solution is to distribute the drivers over the Internet, but then you need to carry an EDGE dongle and its drivers if you want to use a PC away from a hotspot. CDs formatted in ISO 9660 might work, but a problem remains: How would you use a non-FAT non-NTFS USB d

          • by icebike (68054)

            Don't confuse Fat with either Fat32 or Long file names. You can have a small partition large enough to hold your drivers on the dongle.

            Many devices in the Win98 era came with a mini-cd with the drivers on it. I have 4 of 5 of these that all used the same drivers, and once you installed one it would work for many devices (cameras mostly in my case).

            (And if "she don't want you installing shit" walk away. Its not your machine).

            As for the Vista problem, this is why a signed module developed by and maintained

            • (And if "she don't want you installing shit" walk away. Its not your machine).

              I was imagining the following hypothetical use case: I live where the only affordable home Internet access is dial-up. (For various definitions of "affordable", this could be rural North America, or even North America in general.) I have traveled to an Internet cafe to download some large files using its high-speed Internet connection to a USB drive. As you point out, I do not own this machine, yet I have paid to rent its use as a "Limited user" for an hour. The drive is larger than 2 GB and therefore can't

  • Well, when you are a gnat that's about to be squished by a Sherman Tank, you have two choices: capitulate or get driven into the pavement. Tom Tom lives to ifght another day...
  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris.beau@org> on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:20PM (#27393663)

    It is time for Microsoft to decide what it wants more. Collect a few cents here and there and spread some FUD or keep all memory cards shipping as FAT.

    All the SD trade group would need to do is put together a new spec. It would call for a tiny FAT12 partition on each card sold with an IFS driver for a new file system. No it couldn't be ext2/3/4 because of the GPL. It just couldn't so give that idea up. But there ARE a lot of other proven file systems that support long file names and large filesystems. Getting a Windows IFS written would be cheaper than what the industry is paying Microsoft in one year and it would eliminate the FUD attacks. Writing one would probably be cheaper than what Tom Tom just paid their lawyers. So pick a BSD licensed file system that is available (or could easily be) for OS X, Linux and BSD. Supply the driver for Windows on every piece of media along with a README file explaining to customers why all this is going on.

    That readme could say something like:

    "The SD industry has previously used Microsoft's FAT filesystem due to it's uniquity. Microsoft has decided to reward us for helping drive their monopoly by suing us. So we have adopted one of the many other competing file systems for (whatever cute name of new standard). All other popular operating systems support this format out of the box. We offered a driver to Microsoft for inclusion in Windows 7 and they refused to include it. So you will need to click (here) to install the copy we include on each drive/memory card if you have not previously done so."

    Now take this proposed new standard to Microsoft and offer them a choice. Then let them choose their future. A royalty free perpetual license for vFAT for any implementation that supports removable flash based media or see FAT gone within a couple of years.

    • by Samalie (1016193)
      I don't disagree with what you propose, in theory. In pratice, do you have any idea how pissed off the general population would be if, god forbid, they had to do {something} to make their new {whatever} work with their Windows computer. Lets face it, we all here live in the world of geek, and running an install utility to put a filesystem driver on windows is trivial and nothing. Now put that out in the wild. The average dumbass user would freak the fuck out. There would be reports of virii on mass pro
      • by jmorris42 (1458) *

        > ..do you have any idea how pissed off the general population would be if..

        Well first off it won't happen. If the industry made a credible threat MS would quickly realize that having everyone standardized on FAT is worth far more than they can hope to collect in royalties.

        Second the idea is to make sure people know to direct their anger at Microsoft for being a dick about this licensing thing. FAT is too simple to be worthy of a patent. The only value in it at this late date is that Windows and every

    • by Millennium (2451)

      The hell of it is, that still doesn't work. Or rather, it only works for devices that have updateable filesystem drivers. Good luck getting the newer SD cards working with, for example, digital cameras.

      • by tepples (727027)

        Good luck getting the newer SD cards working with, for example, digital cameras.

        SDHC is limited to 32 GB. Perhaps the new file system might be a requirement to get a camera, etc. certified as taking the "SDv3" cards that would appear after the next process shrink.

    • by Dogtanian (588974)

      Your idea is interesting, and probably workable, except for this bit...

      Supply the driver for Windows on every piece of media along with a README file explaining to customers why all this is going on. That readme could say something like:
      "The SD industry has previously used Microsoft's FAT filesystem due to it's uniquity. Microsoft has decided to reward us for helping drive their monopoly by suing us. So we have adopted one of the many other competing file systems for (whatever cute name of new standard). All other popular operating systems support this format out of the box. We offered a driver to Microsoft for inclusion in Windows 7 and they refused to include it. So you will need to click (here) to install the copy we include on each drive/memory card if you have not previously done so."

      No, they're not going to include that text or anything like it. They know that 99% of consumers don't give a toss about company X's licensing spats and grievances with MS (whether or not they're justified), at least not at a time when they're simply trying to get their card working. It just comes across as unprofessional and petty to do so.

      If they want consumers to know that MS are being dicks, better to reference the issue obliquely and

    • by Sleepy (4551)

      You do realize your idea would break MANY installations right?

      Let's assume an environment where you are allowed to use a USB drive, but you don't have admin rights to install drivers. Many corporate PCs are like this.

      Or at home, suddenly you need to install a driver to read a memory stick? Wasn't this the problem memory sticks were trying to SOLVE? They all just work, now.

      Vendors who lead the charge against Microsoft, get squashed. In the early days of 3D on the PC, I recall nVidia giving Microsoft the fing

      • I recall nVidia giving Microsoft the finger and developing their own 3D API, instead of using Microsoft functions.... they almost did not survive Microsoft retribution. (This folks, is pre-Direct-X days)

        You are confusing nVidia with 3dfx. They developed Glide, which was supported by a number of games under DOS. It also worked under Windows, but by the time people started taking Windows gaming seriously OpenGL and Direct3D were also supported and were cross-vendor. Developers could choose to support Glide and work with 3dfx cards, or support OpenGL/Direct3D and work with any 3D cards.

        In the DOS days, every game shipped with its own drivers for everything anyway because DOS hardly provided anything. Th

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Niten (201835)

      No it couldn't be ext2/3/4 because of the GPL. It just couldn't so give that idea up.

      Absolutely wrong. It couldn't be the *Linux implementation* of ext2/3/4, because of the GPL. But there's nothing to stop someone else from creating a new extN implementation under an arbitrary, non-GPL license: in fact, it's already been done [fs-driver.org].

    • And then one company makes a product that uses FAT and advertises "does not require additional drivers!" and you're back to square one.

    • Getting a Windows IFS written would be cheaper than what the industry is paying Microsoft in one year

      The Windows Vista 64-bit code-signing issue that plagues hobbyist efforts like Ext2 IFS wouldn't affect this too much because the SD Card Association could easily afford the $400 per year to maintain an Authenticode certificate. But another problem remains: Windows has a group called Administrators, which corresponds to wheel of *BSD. As I understand it, only users in the Administrators group can install file system drivers. So how are people going to convince the administrators of the PCs they use to let t

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

      No it couldn't be ext2/3/4 because of the GPL. It just couldn't so give that idea up.

      Just what does the GPL do to restrict data formats?

      The answer, of course, is it doesn't do anything.
      The GPL is about distributing copies of code, not data structures.

      There would be absolutely nothing stopping a company from coming up with an alternate implementation of ext2fs code and giving it a proprietary license, or even just an LGPL license, suitable for use by any closed-source implementation.

      Hell, didn't Tso fund part of his work by selling ext2fs code to one of those proprietary partition resizers l

  • if this is really about FAT32 doing long and short filenames, what about that HP NewWave product from the late 80s? And didn't OS/2 provide long & short filenames for DOS programs?

    And since the HP product goes back to the late 80s and it is 2009, hasn't that patent expired since its public usage is over 17 years?

    I would also think that this could be worked around anyways since it is not like the old DOS days where applications were more of the OS than DOS was. Todays products have a real OS and so can'

    • by x2A (858210)

      This is not to do with having long filename support; TomTom could store short filenames with a textfile containing short to long filename mapping, but then those long filenames wouldn't be consistent on your desktop if you renamed them etc. The patent is for the particular method of supporting long filenames (which IIRC uses volume label entries in the directory structure to contain the extra filename info). Patents aren't what you accomplish, they're how you accomplish it.

  • by Chas (5144) on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:51PM (#27394161) Homepage Journal

    Repeat after me.

    America. Land of opportunity.

    DEEPEST POCKETS WINS!

    TomTom may be a great, profitable-as-fuck company. But litigation of this sort is STUPIDLY expensive. And Microsoft could drop the actual value TomTom (debt and all) on the litigation several times over and never miss it. TomTom, OTOH, has to be more circumspect (since they don't have access to the next best thing to God's pocketbook). They can burn all the money on the suit OR they can settle and get on with business, using aforementioned money to build the business more.

    While it's not as fun as seeing Microsoft bitch-smacked by "some plucky young upstart", it's not MY investment (see MONEY) they're playing with.

  • by foregather (578505) on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:52PM (#27394195)
    http://www.softwarefreedom.org/news/2009/mar/30/settled-not-over-yet/ [softwarefreedom.org]

    Today's settlement between Microsoft and TomTom ends one phase of the community's response to Microsoft patent aggression, and begins another. On the basis of the information we have, we have no reason to believe that TomTom's settlement agreement with Microsoft violates the license on the kernel, Linux, or any other free software used in its products. The settlement neither implies that Microsoft patents are valid nor that TomTom's products were or are infringing.

    The FAT filesystem patents on which Microsoft sued are now and have always been invalid patents in our professional opinion. SFLC remains committed to protecting the interests of our clients and the community. We will act forcefully to protect all users and developers of free software against further intimidation or interference from these patents.

    SFLC, working with the Open Invention Network and the Linux Foundation, is pleased to participate in a coordinated, carefully graduated response on behalf of all the community's members to ongoing anti-competitive Microsoft conduct. We believe in strength through unity, and we think our community's unity in the face of these threats has helped to bring about Microsoft's quick settlement on all issues with TomTom.

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Monday March 30, 2009 @06:27PM (#27395529)

    I believe msft is being very successful with that message.

    That message is what the entire scox-scam is about. Think about it, why sue IBM? IBM is not even a Linux distributor. But, IBM had just made a big contribution to linux, and msft wants the world to know: that sort of action does not go unpunished.

    The tomtom suit is another slam-dunk msft victory. Msft gets free access to tomtom's patents, msft gets money from tomtom, and tomtom has to stop using fat. Most importantly of all, the message is broadcast: use Linux, get sued.

    It doesn't matter whether or not the lawsuit has merit. Unless you have about $50 million to fight the lawsuit, msft wins as soon as they file the suit.

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Monday March 30, 2009 @08:02PM (#27396493)

    Still want to use Mono?

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