August 29, 2006

Garmin Sues TomTom (Again)

Garmin has filed a second patent infringement lawsuit this year against rival TomTom. The lawsuit, filed Aug. 23 in U.S. District Court in Marshall, Texas, alleges that TomTom is infringing on a patent that Garmin won in June. The patent is titled: "Portable navigation system and device with audible turn by turn directions." Patent Number 7,062,378.

In reading this patent, there are a lot of meaty claims in it that would pretty much cover the GPS market as it stands. The whole feature of adjusting your route if you make a wrong turn is in it (Claims 17/20), but the key claims are around offering audible directions. This would say that audible directions that are generated by a route are intellectual property owned by Garmin. Wow, that’s pretty broad. Can you imagine a GPS that doesn’t do that?

In February, Garmin sued TomTom in U.S. District Court in Madison, Wis., for infringing three navigation-related patents. In March, TomTom responded with a counterclaim that Garmin was infringing on three patents it held an exclusive license for. In April, TomTom bought the same patents for an undisclosed amount. That case awaits a February 2007 jury trial.

I’ve seen a couple of these types of suit, counter suit things, and a lot of times they end up battling for a long time and then settling, when the companies both realize that both of their product lines would be decimated if they can’t use each other’s technology. We’ll see what happens.

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Posted by Scott Martin at August 29, 2006 9:44 AM

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