Microsoft and TomTom settle Linux patent suit, Linux not necessarily in the clear

Well, that was fast -- just a month after Microsoft set the open-source world on fire by claiming that TomTom's use of Linux violated its FAT filesystem patents, the two companies have settled, with TomTom paying the always-popular "undisclosed amount" and letting MS license four of its navigation patents for free. What's more, TomTom has also agreed to remove certain functionality from its PNDs within two years. That's huge -- not only did TomTom's attorneys calculate that the total cost of this settlement was less than the cost of a trial and a potential loss, the overwhelmingly one-way nature of the deal implies they felt they were holding a bad position. Since we don't know if that was more to do with the navigation patents or the FAT patents, we can't really say what's going to happen next, but Microsoft's made no bones about the fact that it thinks Linux violates all sorts of its IP, and cruising to an easy settlement in a month like this just might encourage its legal department to go digging for gold in troubled economic times. We'll see.