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Torvalds Invalidates Microsoft FAT Patent

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#1 simplezz

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 23:15

Linus Torvalds just can’t help but be a thorn in Microsoft’s side.

First, he created an open source project that completely upset Microsoft’s business model. And now, he has helped shoot down an important Microsoft patent in Redmond’s crusade to wring licensing dollars out of Google Android and other versions of Linux.

Microsoft has coerced many Android phone makers into paying licensing fees for various Microsoft patents related to operating system design, and in some cases, it has actually taken legal action against such companies, including smartphone manufacturer Motorola. In October of 2010, it sued Motorola in federal court, and it filed a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission, or ITC.

Last December, Microsoft scored a victory when the ITC Administrative Law Judge Theodore R. Essex found that Motorola had violated four Microsoft patents. But the ruling could also eliminate an important Microsoft software patent that has been invoked in lawsuits against Barnes & Noble and car navigation device-maker Tom Tom.

According to Linus Torvalds, he was deposed in the case this past fall, and apparently his testimony about a 20-year-old technical discussion — along with a discussion group posting made by an Amiga fan, known only as Natuerlich! — helped convince the Administrative Law Judge that the patent was invalid.

Essex’s ruling is merely an initial determination. It is being reviewed and could yet be reversed by the Commission. But if it’s upheld, it could work against Microsoft as it continues to fight Android and other Linux-based systems that it believes violate its intellectual property.

Microsoft says that Motorola violated one of its patents, known as the 352 patent. This patent covers a technique for storing filenames with lots of characters in old filesystems such as the Windows FAT (File Allocation Table) filesystem that are designed to use very short filenames. Mobile phone makers use this type of technology so that their devices interoperate with other operating systems, including Windows.

“Motorola had found this posting of mine about long filenames used in a compatible manner with short file names… and it predated the Microsoft patent by three years,” says Torvalds.


Source


#2 vincent

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 23:20

Yes!

#3 still1

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 23:22

cool...so now does android manufacturers have to drop paying MS license fee?
open source can never fail.

#4 OP simplezz

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 23:31

cool... so now does android manufacturers have to drop paying MS license fee?

The final outcome of this should directly affect all current and future licence agreements with Android makers. The FAT patent in question has always been Microsoft's heavy weight in its fight against Linux, so this could have wide ranging ramifications for licensees.

#5 Phouchg

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 23:34

Posted Image


Microsoft won't get their "protection monies" anymore. I doubt that it will in any way benefit the customers, though.

#6 abecedarian paradoxious

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 23:38

A judge in England has little power over international proceedings other than to voice opinion, and maybe establish some precedent, with regards to foreign patent(s).

Last I heard, FAT was a Microsoft patent in the USA; if USA judges uphold the patent, UK, and elsewhere must enforce the judgment.

#7 ahhell

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 23:40

It's the year of Linux!!!

/snark

#8 rajputwarrior

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 23:48

cool...so now does android manufacturers have to drop paying MS license fee?
open source can never fail.


no, not even close. android breaks soooooooo many patents that this one wouldn't even cover it. (im not trying to be on MS is side, it;s just that patent system is stupid and in fact does breach a lot of MS patents)

#9 vetneufuse

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 23:48

so he thinks he invalidates a patent because of a discussion topic... yet MS could of filed the pattent application before that you never know... I haven't looked into that but it could of happened... anyways... people have lost pattent cases against a patent holder when there was undisputable prior art to the patent, yet the patent wasn't invalidated... why does he think talking about it will now invalidate it?... some companies including MS and Apple have pattented things that had prior art and sued people it in the past... and they still hold the patents

#10 thejohnnyq

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 23:57

There more to this then just the patent filing date. MS may have notes and info going back further, and with the new changes to patent law, (First to file instead of first to invent), it will not get over turned, plus it would have to pre-date OS/2 v1.0 and all the betas that included the technology that was in there that had the feature.

#11 OP simplezz

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 00:00

no, not even close. android breaks soooooooo many patents that this one wouldn't even cover it. (im not trying to be on MS is side, it;s just that patent system is stupid and in fact does breach a lot of MS patents)

It's true that this is only one patent, but it's a key one in the Microsoft strategy. It's used in every lawsuit against Linux. Without it, it's going to be much harder to convince new and existing Android makers to become licensees, and even if they do license other Microsoft patents, the cost of doing so will be greatly diminished.

#12 OP simplezz

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 00:06

so he thinks he invalidates a patent because of a discussion topic... yet MS could of filed the pattent application before that you never know...

The newsgroup discussion is date stamped and on public record. That was three years before Microsoft's patent application. Furthermore, the judge in the case agrees with this assessment. You can't get any more conclusive that this in patent law. It's definitive prior art and completely invalidates the FAT patent.

anyways... people have lost pattent cases against a patent holder when there was undisputable prior art to the patent, yet the patent wasn't invalidated... why does he think talking about it will now invalidate it?... some companies including MS and Apple have pattented things that had prior art and sued people it in the past... and they still hold the patents

Prior art has no statue of limitations. Once proven (in a court of law), the patent is basically worthless.

#13 OP simplezz

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 00:10

There more to this then just the patent filing date.

We're not talking about a few months here, it's three years before the patent filing date. That's enough to invalidate any patent.

and with the new changes to patent law, (First to file instead of first to invent), it will not get over turned, plus it would have to pre-date OS/2 v1.0 and all the betas that included the technology that was in there that had the feature.

Does first to file apply retroactively?

#14 The_Decryptor

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 00:24

It's interesting that they're still using the short file name functionality, it was disabled in normal Linux a while ago because it wasn't needed any more (And was the only patented part of FAT I think)

Windows 95 and NT3.5 support long file names, I can't see much of a need for a new smart phone to interface with a DOS machine (Bigger issue is getting USB drivers for the DOS machine)

#15 Growled

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 00:26

no, not even close. android breaks soooooooo many patents that this one wouldn't even cover it. (im not trying to be on MS is side, it;s just that patent system is stupid and in fact does breach a lot of MS patents)


How do you know this? Until recently no one knew what the patents even were.