You DO realize what you basically said was "the difference is stealing from someone I like VS someone I hate" right?
No, I was interested in the difference between stealing and violating an unjust law out of necessity. I have no personal sympathy for tomtom.
I do have a personal interest in being able to use my mp3 player without paying people who have done no work at all for me. Although software patents do not exist in my country yet, it's just a matter of time before my legislation gets infected too.
In case you don't know your history in the late 70s MSFT bought QDOS, and with it the first FAT (now called FAT 12) and then they paid for R&D to create FAT16 and later FAT32. It didn't just magically come into existence you know.
The patent is not about FAT32. It's about a scheme for storing long filenames alongside short ones. Which is something everybody and his dog could devise in a few hours of work. The problem is that even if I, to respect MSFT's IP, invented a better one, it would be of no use to me, because the only scheme we're interested in is the MSFT one, because that's the only one Windows will understand.
And from what I understand MSFT licenses FAT dirt cheap, which is why the flash drive manufacturers never bothered coming up with something else. So like it or not there is NO difference between MSFT and Busybox when it comes to suing. None at all. Both paid good money to develop a product and in both cases someone else gave them the finger and took it, end of story.
Well, the fact that tomtom and MSFT settled out of court should at least give you some doubt about the simplicity of your reconstruction. Anyhow, I was more interested in the moral difference between the two cases. And by the way, IIRC the busybox developers are trying to stop the lawsuits against companies who, according to them, inadvertently violated their copyrights: that makes them different from a patent troll.
What I find funny is the FSF and other FLOSS advocates (like yourself) arguing over Mono VS Java and Theora VS H.264 when you are all about to get train fucked and don't even know it! You see MSFT came out with this little piece of tech called exFAT that even the drives at the local Big Lots are starting to come formatted with. And unlike FAT32 with its cheap license, or .NET which has the "we'll not sue" covenant exFAT IS patented up the ass and they WILL sue if you don't shell out for licenses. So while everyone at the FSF argues over whether binary blobs should be allowed they are about to find out how nasty things can be when no PMP, or cell phone, or flash drive, or pretty much any mobile device will work with FLOSS unless you break out your checkbook.
Now I don't understand, that's exactly my concern. Why doesn't that scream to you "software patents suck and need to be abolished"?
You know, I really hoped that Linux would present a "third way" and allow real competition in the X86/64 arena, but all this crap over Mono and H.264 and now exFAT (which I swear to God I had one FLOSSie say with straight face say to use EXT3 with all that overhead on flash drives) it is pretty obvious to me the zealots rule FLOSS and are determined to keep it a niche that fits their agenda. So please, don't use Mono, or H.264, and format all your flash drives with EXT3, whatever. In less than 3 years Linux won't be able to hook with jack shit as all drives will be coming with exFAT and Windows 8 will probably drop the old FAT32 leaving FLOSS swinging in the breeze. it is a damned shame, as the competition would have been nice, but zealotry never helps, only hurts.
I think that actually "FLOSS" isn't "ruled" by anyone. Everyone will do whatever he likes. In fact, the usage of mono among "FLOSSies" is growing. I personally use h264 because it's better than Theora and I (still) can do it without breaking the law. I don't use mono to develop new software because I find Java to be (at least) technically equivalent, thus I can choose the solution that IMHO better guards my ass in case somebody in the future decides to use the nuclear option (cfr. the patent wars between Nokia / Apple / HTC to get an early taste).