Will Tom-Tom Lawsuit Further Distance Microsoft From Linux Crowd?

Steven Vaughan-Nichols over at ComputerWorld posted about Microsoft's suit against GPS device maker Tom-Tom, and how this is one of the few times Microsoft's taken legal action in regards its patent infringement claims against Linux. Three of the suit's claims are related to Linux running in Tom-Tom devices. It's interesting Microsoft would take this action and while it's not a direct assault claiming broad Linux patent infringements, the claims against Tom-Tom's Linux are direct enough to surely garner the attention of Linux and other open source advocates. I'll be interested to see how much press this story gets, given Microsoft may have more to lose by winning versus losing.

Microsoft's been trying to play nice with the Linux and open source crowds, such as with partnerships with Red Hat and Novell. But the voracity of hatred towards Microsoft seems like it's ever ending and only increases. Some of my friends who develop in both Java and .NET told me today that many developers view SOAP as a "Microsoft thing", and shun the use of SOAP because of that. How ironic because my first exposure to SOAP (the programming kind) was when developing products using Java, Linux and other open source technologies. Seems anything Microsoft embraces, stands a good chance of being shunned by the Microsoft-haters.

Will the Tom-Tom suit become a PR nightmare and blow up in Microsoft's face? Is the Tom-Tom suit merely a trial balloon, giving Microsoft an opportunity to dip its toe in the IP protection lawsuit game against Linux? Is this another SCO Unix fiasco in the making? Well, I think all of those questions probably make more out of this lawsuit than it really is. But it seems unlikely the suit against Tom-Tom would help and could only harm Microsoft in their recent change of personality towards Linux and open source developers and users.

The Tom-Tom case seems like one of those golden opportunities where the target sets themselves up for their enemies to pounce upon. We'll have to see if this story has legs or if the whole thing will blow over. Seems like legal battles create many opportunities for Microsoft detractors to make their case "yet again" against big, bad, propriety Microsoft.

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