Microsoft and TomTom have been in a scuffle the past few months, following legal action taken by Redmond claiming that the portable navigation company violated several of its patents – the most important of which was a patent on the FAT file system. Microsoft's obvious target wasn't TomTom, of course, but Linux, as it was the implementation of FAT support in the Linux kernel that the company was running after.
While initially seeming to want a fight, TomTom has backed down – at least partially – and instead opted to settle with Microsoft. Under the settlement agreement, TomTom will be paying the software giant for use of the supposedly infringed patents, as well as giving Microsoft the right to use their patents without any royalties. Further, TomTom will work to actually remove the particular components that got them into trouble with Microsoft in the first place. They have five years to execute those procedures, though they believe it will take them only two.
Was this a success for Microsoft and a defeat for Linux? It's fairly ambiguous, and since the case never went to court we won't know for sure. Even though Microsoft went solely after TomTom, it has threatened numerous times in the past to go after any vendor that makes use of Linux – of which there is an innumerable amount. Does Microsoft have the legal clout and proper patents to truly back up their claims?