Feeds

Microsoft wins FAT patent case

Could use it as stick to beat Linux

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

The US Patent Office has upheld Microsoft's claim of patent rights over its File Allocation Table.

The decision reverses two earlier judgements and potentially allows Microsoft to go after open-source developers who use the technology. FAT controls how computers store information to hard drives and other storage devices such as Flash cards.

The US Patent and Trademark Office ruled that the file system is "novel and non-obvious" and, therefore, deserving of a patent.

The decision is important because it could mean Microsoft could force open-source distributors to pay it a royalty or remove the software from their products. Open-source software must, by definition, be patent-free. Concerns over patents within some Linux distributions have been blamed for hindering wider adoption of the operating system.

Florian Mueller, founder of nosoftwarepatents.com, said the decision gave Microsoft the weapons to attack Linux. Mueller said: "This is now a situation in which Microsoft could cause major problems to Linux vendors and users. Microsoft may not want to do that yet for other considerations, but the USPTO's decision gives Microsoft the strategic option to do so at a time of its choosing. Also, the USPTO and even the European Patent Office continue to grant new patents to Microsoft daily, and some of them may be equally dangerous to open source as the FAT patents.

"The example of the FAT patents shows that all those patent quality initiatives and patent pledges have no significant value to open-source developers, vendors and users if Microsoft ever wants to go for Linux's throat."

Microsoft was unavailable for comment.®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
Bose says today IS F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.