When Microsoft sued GPS maker TomTom for patent infringement, it sent the Linux faithful into a frenzy, first because Microsoft had never actually filed a patent suit before, and secondly, one of the patents in question had to do with how TomTom implemented Linux. They thought maybe the litigation meant that Microsoft was "backing up" on its newfound "openness."
Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin, however, worked to assuage fears, advising simply: Calm down. Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. In a blog post, Zemlin said:
"We do not feel assumptions should be made about the scope or facts of this case and its inclusion, if any, of Linux-related technology."
I talked to attorneys and other observers about what the case might mean for software patents, which led to a feature story on the issues, and fellow IT Business Edge blogger Rob Enderle also wrote about the case.
Now that the parties have settled their dispute, IT Business Edge guest opinion writer Jeff Seul, who is a partner in the law firm of Holland & Knight, offers his thoughts on what we should take away from the settlement. He explains, quite thoroughly, that such lawsuits are a part of doing business, even where open source software is concerned. And he reminds us of what many seem to forget: Settlements of such suits are what's best for IT users. Isn't that why most of us do what we do in the first place? Check it out.