Microsoft FAT Patent Fails in Germany

While the U.S. courts recently reaffirmed Microsoft's FAT (File Allocation Table) patents, the German Patent Federal Court has just dismissed the patent for use in Germany. According to a report in the German news publication Heise Online, the court has denied the protection that the European Patent Office granted to Microsoft under EP 0618540 for a "common namespace for long and short filenames." This was based on Microsoft's U.S. Patent No. 5,758,352. The German Patent Court stated that the patent claims Microsoft made are "not based on inventive activity."

FAT is a file system that Windows and other operating systems use to track the clusters of data that make up files on mass storage devices, such as hard drives or USB memory sticks. In Linux circles, it's best known for its use in the Samba server application. Samba enables Windows PCs to read and write files on Linux servers, and allows Linux desktops to access Windows servers. Some supporters of Linux and free software have long feared that Microsoft could use its FAT patents to attack Linux vendors and users. While Microsoft has never done so, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has often made claims that Linux "uses [Microsoft's] intellectual property."

Link: Forum Discussion
News source: eWEEK

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9 Comments

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The_Decryptor said,
What does Samba have to do with it?, it's SMB/CIFS.

Microsoft abandoned the semi-open CIFS/SMD long ago, and the gap between the documented and implemented version in Windows Vista is wider still; the issue is relating to patents, and the idea of Microsoft wanting to get money on technologies they have deemed to have created.

The problem which the EU commission have is that since Microsoft is a monopoly, they have a duty to ensure that competitors are not locked out of the marketplace by use of blocking access to interoperability, for example.

With that being said, however, I don't see why *NIX don't use NFS/OpenLDAP and develop a client application for Windows rather than trying to work with Microsoft technologies, IMHO NFS v4 is far superior to SMB.

Well, what does MS currently use?, i can't see it being that incompatible (because that would also break older Windows clients)

And even then, what does it have to do with FAT?

PureLegend said,
FAT is basically standard now...they should've patented it a long time ago!

Meh, all it says to me actually is that the industry should work towards a stanadard, royalty free format - UDF for removable media would be great; although originally designed for DVD's, I'm sure it could be adapted for other things as well; or worse comes to worse, UFS could be employed, and someone simply writes a file system driver for Windows to add support for the file format.