TomTom calls in the 'Linux Defenders'

The intellectual property battle between Microsoft and Dutch personal navigation device maker TomTom today made its first significant impact on Linux: TomTom's Kernel is now a protectorate of The Open Invention Network.

This morning, The Open Invention Network announced that it has signed TomTom as a licensee. The Network takes a strong (if rather dramatic) stance on the issue of defending Linux. On its site, the group says it is "actively seeking to address problems that arise from patent trolls and industrial companies whose business models and behaviors are antagonistic to Linux and true innovation."

Furthermore, the group's "Linux Defenders" mission statement says it is trying to produce "prior art that invalidates poor quality patents and patent applications, and aids in eliminating future patent concerns, using IP rights management tools such as Defensive Publications, Peer-to-Patent, and Peer-to-Issue. The goal is to give the Linux and open source community the leverage to proactively limit the resources that organizations can use against Linux."

The Open Invention Network (OIN) is something of an open source patent pool. Licensees agree to turn over their intellectual property in exchange for open, royalty-free access to OIN's more than 275 Linux patents and patent applications.

Microsoft took legal action against TomTom in the US District Court and with the International Trade Commission at the end of February for violation of eight patents, three of which that pertain to the Linux operating system's methods of file and memory management.

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