Ok, if you write a bit of code differently from Microsoft and come up with a result that is the same that's not patent infringement, Microsoft have a department to work with companies that are in this situation, they have coughed up millions (if not billions
by now) of dollars to companies where they weren't the first to patent.
Some people out there have made allot of money out of Microsoft, I actually do know one guy that has retired because he 'sold his company' to Microsoft so they could have his code (he had to register a company first for Microsoft to buy)
If you want to use a piece of code that Microsoft has already patented but can't afford it, again, they are happy to cut a deal. In one case I read that Microsoft could clearly see the advantage to them of a good interoperability story, they let the fee slide.
However, FAT32, you can't argue that you wrote a bit of code and it came out exactly the same as FAT32. Gee-whizz! How did that happen?!
Then if the owner of that patent finds out and gives the person an opportunity to sort it out and tries to get in contact but gets stone-walled ... and this goes on for a YEAR ... this is clearly taking the mick! What recourse do you have over than to go legal?
TomTom aren't a small company, they clearly sell stuff for profit, they charge £30 for a data-file that tells you where the 'safety-camera's' are, however this file is offered free by almost everyone else, infact the Transport Agency recommends that this informatinon
is 'easily accessible' ... but still TomTom charge.
So looking at the facts here I would advise that the Open Source posse would be better advised to pick on a story that better serves their cause!
I have nothing against Open Source ... I have even written years worth of code back in the days when I was a true believer ... just now I believe it has a place ... not the place.
If it were Microsoft infringing on someone else's patents, then I'm pretty sure that the same people would be making the same argument against them.