Can TomTom find its way out of its GPL mess?

Slashdot recently posted a story about Microsoft’s patent infringement allegations against TomTom.  The gist of it is, maybe Microsoft is trying to put TomTom in an impossible position: continue using an infringing version of Linux and be liable for damages for violating Microsoft patents, or license those same patents and violate the GPL, thereby losing the right to distribute Linux.

Glyn Moody goes into more depth in his own post, quoting a commenter from an earlier story:

It isn’t a case of cross-license and everything is ok. If Tom Tom or any other company cross licenses patents then by section 7 of GPLv2 (for the Linux kernel) they lose the rights to redistribute the kernel *at all*.

[ . . . ]

Tom Tom are the first company to publicly refuse to engage in this ugly little protection racket, and so they got sued. Had Tom Tom silently agreed to violate the GPL, as so many others have, then we’d only hear about a vague “patent cross licensing deal” just like the ones Microsoft announces with other companies.

As someone not entirely familiar with the GPL, it was somewhat hard to believe that it makes it impossible to cross-license patents if you’re using it.  But, here’s a couple of choice quotes from GPLv2.

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