[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.

Peace.

--------------------
Notes:

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

-- 
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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