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Microsoft lawyer 'won't speculate' on Linux suits
Written by Daniel   
Thursday, 26 February 2009 11:58

REDMOND, Wash.--Microsoft's top intellectual property lawyer said that the company's legal action against TomTom over Linux was specific to that company, but he declined to say whether other suits over the open source operating system might follow.

February 25, 2009 9:08 PM PST
by Ina Fried

"I wouldn't speculate at this point," Horacio Gutierrez told CNET News in an interview late Wednesday. Gutierrez did add that Microsoft's patent suit against TomTom, which includes three claims related to file management techniques used in the Linux kernel, was specific to that company.

It is the "TomTom implementation of the Linux kernel that infringes these claims," Gutierrez said. "There are many flavors of Linux (and) many implementations of the Linux kernel. Cases such as these are very fact-specific."

Microsoft filed complaints in federal court and with the International Trade Commission on Wednesday alleging eight counts of patent infringement by TomTom. While five of the patents relate to car navigation systems specifically, three of the claims pertain to TomTom's use of the Linux kernel in its products, Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez said Microsoft chose to include the open source claims alongside the proprietary GPS system claims because both related to TomTom. He characterized the suit as a dispute with TomTom as opposed to a new salvo against Linux.

"This is just a normal course-of-business dispute between two companies," he said, adding that no special thought was given to what it meant to include the Linux claims in the suit.

"That is not the focal point of the action," he said.

Asked whether that meant that Microsoft would seek compensation from all products that use the Linux kernel, Gutierrez said, "No. That is really not what we have in mind. This case is about TomTom's infringement."

He stressed Microsoft's preference for signing licensing deals with companies, including those using Linux. [C/Net News...]    [Comments...]

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