[linux-elitists] Microsoft licensing FAT?

Karsten M. Self kmself@ix.netcom.com
Thu Dec 4 03:24:14 PST 2003

on Thu, Dec 04, 2003 at 10:56:27AM +0200, Gilad Ben-Yossef (gilad@benyossef.com) wrote:
> On Thursday 04 December 2003 10:47, Seth David Schoen wrote:
> > http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2001806897_micr
> >osoft04.html
> >
> >   Two technologies in particular were highlighted for licensing
> >   yesterday: the File Allocation Table (FAT) file system and the
> >   ClearType readability software.
> >
> >   Operating systems use FAT to track information about computer files,
> >   such as their location, and to reassemble the files for viewing. It
> >   has become widely used to exchange media between computer and digital
> >   devices, and could be of interest to digital camera or camcorder
> >   companies, for example. The license is priced at 25 cents per unit
> >   with a $250,000 cap on total royalties per manufacturer.
> >
> >   Some companies might just write Microsoft a $250,000 check instead of
> >   keeping track of the per-unit royalties, Kaefer said.
> On what basis are they selling licenses?
> Do they sell license for software that access FAT or do they have some sort 
> of patent that covers FAT? because trade secret it ain't, that's for 
> sure...

I'm shakier than some on my computer history, but....

Originally, FAT was part of CP/M, or the original DOS.  Which puts it
pre-1980, and well beyond any 17 or 20 year patent window.

More recent modifications to FAT _may_ be subject to patent.  I
distinctly remember a big fuss being made over, let's see, must have
been Win98, with FAT32, allowing access to $SOME_VALUE total disk space,
and IIRC smaller sector sizes so less wasted space.  It wouldn't
surprise me too greatly to find that this is the subject of a patent or
two, though I've got no evidence either way.

I'll repeat what I said regards the MS Office XML schema patents:  the
license was couched in terms that didn't indicate what specifically was
patented, or what patents were licensed.  I'd look this Gift[1] horse
very closely in the mouth.



1.  "Gift" in German means "poison".  Which brings some interesting
    imagery in the context of Trojan horses and the the like, says this

Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
    Bush/Cheney '04: Four More Wars!
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