FAT, ext2/3 and patents
The implementation of FAT in the kernel is GPL. TomTom could create a new implementation under a different license and distribute it as a closed source kernel module. There is little point in doing this as Microsoft would still demand royalties for unenforcible invalid patents.
@facts and fairytales
1. Big difference between wilful and accident infringement.
2. Software patents can be purchased almost anywhere. In the US, software patents were seriously defanged in Re Bilski. In the EU, you have to call 'software patents' 'computer implemented inventions' or they will be rejected. Judges have caught on that a 'computer implemented invention' is a software patent, and should never have been granted. Even if there was not prior art, the FAT patent would unenforcible everywhere (except perhaps Australia).
3. IP is not legal term. There are patents, trademarks and copyright. The term IP is used by people who do not know any better and those deliberately trying to misapply the reasoning behind laws for physical property to patents, trademarks and copyright. If you have a point here at all, be very specific: what patent, what date, and against whom?
4. The GPL has always given you a choice: Cathedral or Bazaar. The only new thing here is that Bazaar is now popular enough to hit Microsoft's profits hard.
@Charles Smith, @Remy Redert
The patent is about long file name support that is compatible with a previous file-system that was limited to short names. There is still prior art. Not a problem to ext2/3/4.
SCO only achieved one thing beyond their own destruction: They demonstrated that caving in to nuisance litigation is more expensive than standing up to empty threats. Also: pay of one troll and you will get whole horde of them at your door tomorrow.
> The point is that the justification for the patent system is to make sure the inventor can get "fair payment" for their invention and/or R&D.
The patent system fails to reward inventors. If you invent something, manufacturers can wait twenty years to use your idea for free (popular tactic for the car industry). Manufacturers can use your idea and be confident that you cannot afford to defend your patent - it is really expensive to defend a patent, and all the time you are trying, the manufacturer has a revenue stream from your idea which he can use to delay the litigation.
The most effective way to profit from an idea is to sell your own product. You get at least one and often two years before competitors get something to market. During that time you have a revenue stream for researching a second generation product, so you can repeat the cycle before a patent can even be granted.
There are ways to profit from patents: You can lie about the existence of a patent and get it included in a standard (Remember Rambus and JEDEC?). You can patent other peoples ideas. If any of them turn out to be profitable, you can the sue whoever did all the work to change an idea into a revenue stream. If you are part of a cartel of companies with cross licensed patents for a communications product, you can prevent new entrants into the market by updating the protocols to use new patents whenever old patents expire.
And as for drug companies: the patent system ensures that poor countries that cannot afford patented drugs and become sources of infection for people in rich countries. It would be far more sensible to reward drug research directly than to bump up the global price of medicine.
Out of all the thousands of patents filed in the last year, can you name a single one that should have been granted, earned money for the true inventor, was not submarined into a standard and will not sicken thousands of people in the third world?