Microsoft in pact with semi-open source map maker

The deal allows 123map -- a German-based company that delivers maps across multiple phones and other devices -- to use Microsoft technology in layering "place of interest" data on top of existing digital maps.

For its part, 123map recently launched "flosm," a tool that enables comparisons between freeware and commercial mapping data through the use of overlay technology, according to information on 123map's Web site.

"123map's products are developed with a diverse mix of proprietary and open source software, and this business agreement is a testament to the importance of mutual respect for IP, regardless of development models," Microsoft officials said in a statement today.

In its digital maps, 123map specializes in vector-based mapping, transmitting data with x-y coordinates.

Advocates of vector-based mapping say use of the approach consumes less bandwidth while retaining more mapping details when maps are transmitted over the Internet.

Microsoft is licensing its technology to 123map through a five-year-old program that has so far resulted in about 500 different patent licensing pacts.

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