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Microsoft sues TomTom for alleged patent infringement

Although Microsoft has been on the receiving end of plenty of patent complaints, this is only the third major case the company itself has filed.

This post was updated at 2:34 p.m. to reflect TomTom's declining to comment.

It looks like TomTom will need to find the directions to the courthouse.

Microsoft said on Wednesday that it is filing two separate patent infringement actions against the GPS navigation company. In complaints before the U.S. District Court in Washington and the International Trade Commission, Microsoft is alleging infringement of eight patents.

Microsoft deputy general counsel Horacio Gutierrez. Microsoft

In an interview, Microsoft deputy general counsel Horacio Gutierrez said that the software giant has been trying to start licensing talks with TomTom for more than a year.

"They basically never were prepared to have a discussion with us with respect to licensing terms," Gutierrez said.

A TomTom spokesman said, as a corporate policy, the company "does not comment on legal matters."

Although Microsoft has been on the receiving end of many patent complaints, this is only the third patent case Microsoft has taken to court. Last year it sued Taiwanese mouse maker Primax, before subsequently settling. It also had a dispute with Belkin back in 2006, which was eventually settled as well.

Microsoft already has deals with several other GPS system makers including Pioneer, Alpine, and Kenwood as part of its efforts to license its technology, a push that began back in 2003.

"All of these patents have been licensed before by many other companies," Gutierrez said. "We are asking TomTom to do what other companies have done and take a license."

The federal lawsuit (PDF) seeks damages for the past infringement, while the ITC case (PDF) is aimed at blocking future imports of infringing patents, Microsoft said.

"By filing both actions simultaneously we are seeking to both recoup past losses and stop continued infringing activity, which would thus minimize potential future losses," Microsoft said in a statement. ITC cases typically take about 15 months, Microsoft said, while federal patent suits can take much longer.

Of the eight patents involved, Gutierrez said that five relate to car navigation systems specifically, while the others have to do with file management technologies.