CALL US: 206.533.3854
CALL US  206.533.3854
AEON Law logo full color transparent
AEON law logo on grey background

Initial observations on the Microsoft v. TomTom patent litigation

Microsoft complaint generates significant discussion and debate in Seattle software community

The recent complaint filed by Microsoft against TomTom has generated significant discussion and debate in the Seattle software community. In this post, I’ll briefly describe a few initial observations about the case.

After almost a week of smoldering in the blogosphere, one controversial issue seems to be already resolved: this is not a Microsoft against Linux battle. As some of the commenters to TechFlash’s Todd Bishop’s post noted, and Matt Asay carefully analyzes, Linux is really not the issue in this litigation, despite some of the headlines and discussion. Microsoft’s Horacio Gutierrez said as much when he said, “This is just a normal course-of-business dispute between two companies.”

In addition to normal damages, Microsoft’s complaint alleges that the company is entitled to enhanced damages and attorney fees because, on June 13, 2008, it sent a notice to TomTom’s CTO, Peter-Frans Pauwels. A court can enhance damages (triple them) under the theory of willful infringement and 35 U.S.C. 284. These are punitive damages, so they are usually reserved for egregious conduct. Still, the court has fairly wide discretion to consider all the evidence. The letter may be one piece of such evidence.

The real purpose of the letter, however, may have been Microsoft’s failed attempt to strike a licensing deal. As TechFlash’s Todd Bishop noted, Microsoft has rarely had to resort to litigation to profit from its automotive patent portfolio. Moreover, despite the fact that Microsoft had to send it’s lawyers to federal court in Seattle, the outcome of the dispute may indeed be a licensing deal. After all, in the past few times that Microsoft has turned to the courts, the cases settled.

I’ll try to keep tabs on the case as it develops–if it does not settle first.

For your reference, Microsoft’s complaint alleges that TomTom is infringing eight patents. They are:

  • 6,175,789 Beckert, “Vehicle computer system with open platform architecture”
  • 7,054,745 Couckuyt, “Method and system for generating driving directions”
  • 6,704,032 Falcon, “Methods and arrangements for interacting with controllable objects within a graphical user interface environment using various input mechanisms”
  • 7,117,286 Falcon, “Portable computing device-integrated appliance”
  • 6,202,008 Beckert, “Vehicle computer system with wireless internet connectivity”
  • 5,579,517 Reynolds, “Common name space for long and short filenames”
  • 5,758,352 Reynolds, “Common name space for long and short filenames”
  • 6,256,642 Krueger, “Method and system for file system management using a flash-erasable”

The following is the full text of the complaint.

Microsoft v. TomTom Complaint

Related Articles

Just Because It’s on the Internet Doesn’t Mean It’s “Publicly Accessible”

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB or Board) has denied institution of a petition for inter partes review (IPR) because the petitioner failed to ...
Read More

Trademark Denied for “ChatGPT”

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has denied OpenAI’s applications to trademark “ChatGPT” and “GPT.” The Final Office Action states, “Registration is refused because the applied-for mark ...
Read More

Federal Circuit: “Improving User Experience” Isn’t Patentable

The Federal Circuit has affirmed a lower court decision that patent claims for methods and systems for improving how search results are displayed to users ...
Read More

Stay Informed

Sign up to receive Patent Poetry—a monthly roundup of key IP issues in our signature haiku format. Four articles (only 68 syllables); zero hassle.



Artificial Intelligence

Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

Computer Technology & Software

Consumer Electronics

Electrical Devices



Mechanical Devices

Consumer & Retail Products

Hardware & Tools

Toys & Games



Chemical Compounds

Digital Health

Healthcare Products



Books & Publications

Brand Creation

Luxury Products

Photography & Video

Product Design