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Microsoft The Courts

Microsoft Gets Back Its FAT Patent In Germany 113

Dj writes to let us know that Microsoft has regained its FAT patent in Germany. (We discussed it three years ago when the German Federal Patent Tribunal ruled that Microsoft's patent on the FAT file system, with short and long names, was not enforceable.) "The [German] appeal court's decision brings it into line with the US patent office's assessment of the FAT patent. In early 2006, after lengthy deliberations, the latter confirmed the rights to protection conferred by [US] patent number 5,579,517, claiming that the development was new and inventive."
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Microsoft Gets Back Its FAT Patent In Germany

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 23, 2010 @01:26PM (#31957642)

    Just too bad that software patents can not be inforced in germany. They only exist for a possible future change of german or european patent law. A change which is currently rather unlikely.

  • Timelines (Score:3, Insightful)

    by coniferous ( 1058330 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @01:27PM (#31957648) Homepage
    Isnt there a statue of limitations in germany? I mean, FAT is like 20 years old.
  • Retroactive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 23, 2010 @01:30PM (#31957690)

    This seems fucked up. The patent was invalidated, which allowed anyone to implement the technology from the patent. Now, they're saying that the patent is valid, which means that anyone who implemented technology from the patent has been retroactively made a criminal. They will have to pay royalties on anything they sold, and they will be unable to sell their product anymore, even if they spent millions on developing it (unless they get a license from Microsoft).

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @01:39PM (#31957804) Journal
    FAT is, indeed, an antique; but it is still pretty much the only FS that is trivial enough to implement in your cheap digital camera or USB MSC MP3 player, or whatever, that is also supported out of the box by MS operating systems.

    That is why FAT is still worth something to Microsoft. Even for fairly fiddly embedded systems, there are plenty of free filesystems that are easily good enough. For real computers, FAT would be absurd. If, however, you are making a fiddly embedded system that also has to share a filesystem with a real computer, FAT is basically your choice(or exFAT, which is newer and more evil, and will be patent protected even longer).

    Microsoft has absolutely no incentive to support ext2, 3, or 4, or HFS, or any of the others, and NTFS is a bit much for the lighter-weight embedded systems.
  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @01:42PM (#31957836) Homepage

    FAT is needed because Microsoft has effective control of it's OS platform and any other new filesystem standard is going to create a similar patent and support nightmare.

    Microsoft is going to do it's hardest to trap it's users and make everyone else seem like 2nd class (just like Apple does).

  • So... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ProdigyPuNk ( 614140 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @01:50PM (#31957932) Journal
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but Microsoft was basically granted a patent for throwing metadata in unused volume labels ? Why would anyone even WANT to violate the patent ? According to the Wikipedia entry on Long Filename, too many files with the same first six letters will cause issues. Man, that is one hell of a hack.
  • Re:Stupid Headline (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:04PM (#31958126) Homepage Journal

    CDs don't use FAT. Probably ISO 9660. In which case the bug would be in Microsoft's implementation of that standard.

  • Re: Who Cares (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 23, 2010 @02:46PM (#31958802)

    There are windows ext2 drivers. And damn near every camera, pda, and MP3 player in the world comes with an (often useless) driver/install disk. Maybe this market should push back. Maybe this is why we have laws regulating monopolies. Its not like there are no options here.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 23, 2010 @06:31PM (#31961862)

    Oh, you are free to tell us all your opinion. Since you didn't back it up, you are just wasting all our time, but you can do it.

    I'm free to paste bad jokes in here too, or just insult you. That's just as useful!

    When the question before us is "does Tridge's patch successfully avoid the patent?" your opinion is pointless. So is mine. All that matters is what the legal system will make of the patch. If you could point to examples of other patents with a similar situation, or if you were an experienced patent attorney, or if you gave us any shred of evidence that your opinion is in any way shared by the legal system, then I would take you more seriously.

    I could put an opinion here and say that Microsoft's patents should be invalidated, because it's really damned obvious: it's just damned backward compatibility and how the hell did they get a patent on that? Well guess what, Microsoft successfully used the patent as a club to hammer TomTom with, and the legal system let them do it. My opinion is worthless. Just like yours!

    So okay, "it could easily be argued" that writing garbage into a filename field might be considered to be writing a valid filename. That's your opinion. I just don't take it at all seriously. But you are free to post it here!

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