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German Court Invalidates Microsoft FAT Patent

Soulskill posted about 8 months ago | from the exercising-their-patent-rejection-muscles-to-get-rid-of-the-fat dept.

Data Storage 192

walterbyrd sends this news from Techworld: "A Microsoft storage patent that was used to get a sales ban on products from Google-owned Motorola Mobility in Germany has been invalidated by the German Federal Patent Court. Microsoft's FAT (File Allocation Table) patent, which concerns a 'common name space for long and short filenames' was invalidated on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the Federal Patent Court said in an email Friday. She could not give the exact reasons for the court's decision before the written judicial decision is released, which will take a few weeks."

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What about FAT32 (2)

rossdee (243626) | about 8 months ago | (#45626297)

Does this ruling cover FAT32 or just FAT16

Re:What about FAT32 (3, Informative)

peppepz (1311345) | about 8 months ago | (#45626325)

The patent doesn't mention the width of FAT entries. It doesn't mention FAT at all, only directory entries.

Re:What about FAT32 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626411)

So... win?

Re:What about FAT32 (0)

peppepz (1311345) | about 8 months ago | (#45626519)

Win, for now. But I think that manufacturers offering SD card slots still have to support exFAT, yet another useless filesystem from Microsoft, as it's part of the relevant standard.

Re: What about FAT32 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626913)

exFat is not a part of any official standard. It is just a de facto standard 'cause it's widely used. But it has never been standardised by any commitee.

Re: What about FAT32 (1)

yacc143 (975862) | about 8 months ago | (#45627631)

Just a guess, but it's part of the SDXC industry standard. (SDXC basically means exFAT and potentially different access speeds, but it usually comes down to exFAT + no guarantee that any given card will work in some device, even with reformating)
 

Re: What about FAT32 (3, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about 8 months ago | (#45627655)

But it has never been standardised by any commitee.

That's true only as long as you are willing to totally ignore the SD Association.
This is one of those cases where the industry is way ahead of the so called "standards" organizations.

The SD Association offers a formatter [sdcard.org] for SD/SDHC/SDXC cards but only for Windows and MAC. It may format a card in such a way that some devices can't use it.

Re: What about FAT32 (1)

kthreadd (1558445) | about 8 months ago | (#45627899)

The SD Association offers a formatter [sdcard.org] for SD/SDHC/SDXC cards but only for Windows and MAC. It may format a card in such a way that some devices can't use it.

Do you know if the source code is available under a free and open source license?

Re: What about FAT32 (1)

icebike (68054) | about 8 months ago | (#45628041)

I posted a link. You could maybe start there.

Re:What about FAT32 (1)

uglyduckling (103926) | about 8 months ago | (#45627667)

I don't think it's a useless file system. When I'm taking media to a conference, I have a small external hard drive with a small partition with exFAT drivers on, and a larger exFAT partition with all the media on it. That way, if there's an XP box being used for projection, I can move long video files around without the insanity of trying to use NTFS on removable media.

Re:What about FAT32 (1)

peppepz (1311345) | about 8 months ago | (#45628105)

I call it useless not because people cannot use it, but because it doesn't offer advantages over existing file systems. Since you're installing file system drivers anyway, you could as well format the larger partition as UDF and get large files, extended attributes, named streams, UNIX semantics, fault resilience. If you use exFAT, it's only in order to avoid headaches when interoperating with Microsoft platforms, not because of technical considerations.

Re:What about FAT32 (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about 8 months ago | (#45626331)

Not certain buy I would guess FAT32 because of this 'common name space for long and short filenames' as FAT12 and FAT16 did not support LNFs. Hopefully and this what actually matters at this point it also covers exFAT

Re:What about FAT32 (3, Informative)

queazocotal (915608) | about 8 months ago | (#45626337)

As I understand it, exfat has been carefully designed to be rather patent laden, and rely on multiple patents - not just this one that is due to expire soon.

Re:What about FAT32 (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626365)

Every camera, phone and tablet manufacturer should use UDF to format flash cards. It's patent free and supported by all major operating systems. The only thing missing is write support in Windows XP, but it would cost Google pennies to write a free driver, compared to the billions they pay Microsoft for FAT patents.

Re:What about FAT32 (1, Flamebait)

shentino (1139071) | about 8 months ago | (#45626453)

most likely MS would refuse to issue new patent licenses to any OEM supportung UDF

Re:What about FAT32 (2)

peppepz (1311345) | about 8 months ago | (#45626543)

Wouldn't this violate the F in FRAND [wikipedia.org] ? If anything, the problem is that UDF is probably patented as well. Still, UDF is a better file system than *FAT feature-wise, and perhaps the relevant patents aren't in the hands of patent trolls like Microsoft.

Re:What about FAT32 (2)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 8 months ago | (#45626951)

I'd think it would violate the "ND" (non-discriminatory) part instead.

Re:What about FAT32 (2)

leuk_he (194174) | about 8 months ago | (#45626881)

No MS will not refuse it. It will include this in the patent license needed for a android phone.

It is suspected that MS receives 10 dollar/euro (not sure) for every sold android phone, in patent licenses.

However as part of the license it is sealed exactly what is licensed. So you cannot work arround this. And nobody is usre about this. And since fighting of a pantent is a long and expensive proces, most suppliers just pay, because is has the least risk, and most economic outcome. The FAT [swpat.org] patent is needed to read SD card (maybe...) .

Apple decided to fight android. MS decided to earn a lot of money on it.

Re: What about FAT32 (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626939)

Apples earns money with Android as well. HTC for example signed a license agreement with Apple and pays them several dollars per device.

Apple wanted to sign such an agreement with Samsung as well. Before all this litigation stuff. But Samsung refused. That's why they got sued.

Re:What about FAT32 (2)

symbolset (646467) | about 8 months ago | (#45626461)

This is one of the few patents in exFAT left that hasn't been invalidated. Not that it matters. Microsoft will still sue over one of 10,000 other patents.

Re:What about FAT32 (1)

fendragon (841926) | about 8 months ago | (#45626467)

FAT12 and FAT16 DO support long filenames. For example, most SD cards up to 1GB are FAT16 (so are some 2GB cards), and Windows will create long file names on them. Though you wouldn't often need or want to use LFN on a volume small enough to be FAT12, there's no technical reason why you couldn't.

So the Patent discussion is applicable to all three FAT sizes, because they all use the same mechanism for long names.

Re:What about FAT32 (1)

Stalks (802193) | about 8 months ago | (#45626487)

Where is it written that any SD card, regardless of size, must be formatted with FAT anything? Surely the size of a card doesn't determine what filesystems it supports?

Re:What about FAT32 (1)

queazocotal (915608) | about 8 months ago | (#45626503)

Oh yes it does.
If your device doesn't support SDXC + exfat - you can't call it SDXC on the sticker.
Windows will not format as other than exfat volumes >32G, without jumping through hoops - and automatically formatting non exfat volumes >32G as exfat is actually conforming to the spec.

Automatic data loss (1)

tepples (727027) | about 8 months ago | (#45626859)

automatically formatting non exfat volumes >32G as exfat is actually conforming to the spec.

Reformatting a card with data in a foreign file system causes data loss. Which section allows data loss without the user's confirmation to conform?

Re: What about FAT32 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626965)

Might be surprising to you but there are other systems beside Windows.

Re: What about FAT32 (2)

queazocotal (915608) | about 8 months ago | (#45627159)

No, it's not.
This situation deeply depresses me, the fact however remains - you cannot legitimately sell a SDXC compatible device without it supporting exfat.

Re: What about FAT32 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45628245)

I assume that SDXC is a trademark or some such and that license for use of the trademark requires complying with certain terms. However, nobody specifically looks for the SDXC branding. You just tell people that you support SD cards and that's good enough for 99% of folks.

Re:What about FAT32 (1)

fendragon (841926) | about 8 months ago | (#45626835)

I never said SD cards had to be FAT: what I said was that Windows can and will use long names on FAT16, citing SD cards below 2GB as a commonly available example of FAT16, and when you buy them new they are formatted with FAT.

And yes, at least with FAT there are volume size implications in the choice of FAT12 vs FAT16 vs FAT32.

Re:What about FAT32 (2)

leuk_he (194174) | about 8 months ago | (#45626907)

One of the points of a SD (or SDEX) card is that you can read it very simple in an other device. By formtitting it it in JFFS2 or YAFFS you cannot read/exchange the card in windows. Inconvinent, but technically possible.

Re:What about FAT32 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626333)

Does this ruling cover FAT32 or just FAT16

Neither.

From the summary:

... which concerns a 'common name space for long and short filenames'

Re:What about FAT32 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626351)

Does this ruling cover FAT32 or just FAT16

Fat16 is something from the msdos time. is doens't have long file names.

Re:What about FAT32 (1)

fnj (64210) | about 8 months ago | (#45626627)

Fat16 ... doens't have long file names.

Wrong. Don't spout off on a subject about which you know nothing.

Re:What about FAT32 (1)

Zimluura (2543412) | about 8 months ago | (#45626421)

iirc the vfat extension to fat16, was introduced with win95 and had lfn support, while still not being fat32. even-so, the patents should be close to death assuming 20 years (not really sure what the term is in germany. anyone? ). the eu patent was filed for in 5.10.1994 and relates to lfn support.

from wikipedia:
1977 (Stand-alone Disk BASIC-80)
FAT12: August 1980 (SCP QDOS)
FAT16: August 1984 (IBM PC DOS 3.0)
FAT16B: November 1987 (Compaq MS-DOS 3.31)
FAT16X: August 1995 (Windows 95)
FAT32/FAT32X: August 1996 (Windows 95 OSR2)

Re:What about FAT32 (2)

Zimluura (2543412) | about 8 months ago | (#45626469)

scratch that, VFAT was introduced with NT3.5 (September 21, 1994), so the patent was probably filed for in anticipation of the NT3.5 release.

from the same wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_Allocation_Table [wikipedia.org]

OS/2 added long filename support to FAT using extended attributes (EA) before the introduction of VFAT; thus, VFAT long filenames are invisible to OS/2, and EA long filenames are invisible to Windows, therefore experienced users of both operating systems would have to manually rename the files.

perhaps that was taken as prior art?

Re:What about FAT32 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45627127)

I thought there was prior art evidenced in the Linux kernel mailing list and the ext filesystem. when they extended the maximum filename size.

Re:What about FAT32 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45627707)

Bitch, please. Nothing in linux is original.

Re:What about FAT32 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45627951)

The ext filesystems aren't based on FAT. They're Unix-like inode-based filesystems. Unless you mean the UMSDOS which IIRC uses a hidden file or directory to store name mappings.

Re:What about FAT32 (4, Insightful)

jonbryce (703250) | about 8 months ago | (#45626525)

It covers long filename support in FAT. Digital cameras that stored photos with 8.3 filenames were never affected by this patent regardless of which version of FAT they used.

Well... there goes Microsofts Android ... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626329)

There goes Microsofts Android extortion profits...

Re:Well... there goes Microsofts Android ... (1)

peppepz (1311345) | about 8 months ago | (#45626353)

I don't know, does Android support exFAT? It's part of the SDHC (or XC, I can't remember now) standard.

Re:Well... there goes Microsofts Android ... (5, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | about 8 months ago | (#45626431)

The appropriate reference page [sdcard.org] .

Re:Well... there goes Microsofts Android ... (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 8 months ago | (#45626485)

Some phones (Samsung for example) definatly support exFAT.
And thanks to the kernel source from Samsung, anyone who needs exFAT support can get it too (assuming your use of it isn't the sort of use that is likely to get Microsoft interested in suing you for patent violations that is)

Re:Well... there goes Microsofts Android ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626373)

If only, they probably have several dozen other patents to use as plans B throughout Z.

Re:Well... there goes Microsofts Android ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45627895)

If only, they probably have several dozen other patents to use as plans B throughout Z.

The 26 letters in the English alphabet isn't enough for all their plans. After Z they would have to use AA..ZZ, then AAA..ZZZ etc.

They should switch to a base64-based naming scheme to save some typing. Plans AAAA to //// if they only have 16777216 plans (yeah, right!)

Re:Well... there goes Microsofts Android ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626475)

It doesn't matter. They will buy themselves something to get around it in the US.

Re:Well... there goes Microsofts Android ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626491)

Most of these dodgy tech. patents can be challenged on prior art grounds. There are lots of stuff and documents from 80' and early 90' surfacing even on YouTube now.

Re:Well... there goes Microsofts Android ... (1)

Andrio (2580551) | about 8 months ago | (#45626505)

Maybe this means that Android phones (non high end ones anyway, and especially Nexus ones) can go back to including SD card slots.

Re:Well... there goes Microsofts Android ... (2)

moronoxyd (1000371) | about 8 months ago | (#45626817)

There are lots of current Android phones with SD card slots.

Nexus devices don't have them because somebody at Google doesn't seem to like them.

High end devices of other companies sometimes don't have them because the manufacturer wants you to buy the model with 32 or 63 gig rather than the model with 16 gig and a cheap MicroSD card.
But the mid-level devices of the same manufacturers usually come with a CD card slot as they cut down the onboard flash memory to reduce the price.

Re:Well... there goes Microsofts Android ... (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 8 months ago | (#45626947)

Nexus devices don't have them because somebody at Google doesn't seem to like them.

Unfortunately I get the impression sometimes that there are influential people at Google who think that the iPhone is popular because you can't insert an SD card, can't change the battery, and because the battery life is crap, rather than because it's user friendly.

Re:Well... there goes Microsofts Android ... (3, Interesting)

zlogic (892404) | about 8 months ago | (#45626631)

MS gets FAT32 royalties from pretty much every device with SD cards. GPS devices, MP3 players, TVs, digital cameras, car audio etc.
Most "modern" Android devices don't have memory expansion slot (which sucks) and use ext4 internally. Most of the other MS patents taxing Android cover Exchange connectivity and that's unlikely to be invalidated soon.

Re:Well... there goes Microsofts Android ... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45627353)

Why do we need MS filesystems at all? None of my USB sticks is FAT -- what a shitty filesystem.

And who the fuck is connecting to exchange? How about removing the exchange connectivity and offering that via a paid app?

Any other aspect of Android that Microsoft is fraudulently attempting to obtain patent taxes from?

WRONG (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45627201)

Microsoft pretty much always loses in Europe. Microsoft's criminality and brain-dead abuse of the legal system is just too unsubtle to fly, even with MS putting billions into the back pockets of European politicians. In Europe, Microsoft's successes are in buying their way into major government contracts- business, not legal corruption.

In Asia, all the major Asian nations EXCEPT China are in America's back pocket, and bend over and take it whenever an American company challenges them in court, either in the USA or in Asia. This situation has persisted since the USA holocausted two cities full of civilians with nuclear bombs, and told that part of the world that the cost of doing post-war business required massive continuing pay-outs to powerful Western interests. To this day, nations like Japan, Korea and Singapore put up with paying 'danegeld' because they figure across time they gain more than they lose. The rise of China is rapidly challenging this calculation.

So, in the meantime, every little crook from the West who wants a giant pay-out because a Japanese console controller vibrates in your hand, for instance, will continue to 'win' in court. One day we will pay for the humiliations we have heaped on these nations.

Licensees should be able to recover their payments (5, Interesting)

putaro (235078) | about 8 months ago | (#45626363)

There should be a way to get a refund if you paid license fees for an invalid patent. Anyone have a guess as to how much money Microsoft has made off this patent?

Re:Licensees should be able to recover their payme (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626497)

I assume the agreements made often don't allow for demanding refunds.

Re:Licensees should be able to recover their payme (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626541)

Why? Was the product defective? Was something illegal done? Bernie Madoff's customers deserve restitution. Microsoft's do not. Whether or not the patent is valid, you pay to license the filesystem. Caveat emptor. If you didn't think the patent was valid, you should ahead and used it without paying. The payments amount to 'insurance' money to avoid expensive lawsuits. Which is fine until someone with some balls and money says bullshit and is willing to go to court and challenge it.

Re:Licensees should be able to recover their payme (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626707)

Why? Was the product defective? Was something illegal done? Bernie Madoff's customers deserve restitution. Microsoft's do not. Whether or not the patent is valid, you pay to license the filesystem.

You would be right if modern patent licensing wasn't a legalized protection racket. The patent is invalid so there was never a product to begin with, only a bunch of men dressed in expensive suits telling you "that is a nice business you have there. It would be a shame if something happened to it, either pay up or face years of curt battles with sales bans mixed in". The nearest thing to a product is the promise not to loose your business to a violent death.

Re:Licensees should be able to recover their payme (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45628157)

Legalized protection racket? So, if you develop something that could earn you tons of money, would YOU not want to protect that to gain some financial consideration for your efforts?

Re:Licensees should be able to recover their payme (1)

truedfx (802492) | about 8 months ago | (#45626545)

No, there really shouldn't be, that would be worse than the current situation. That would mean that to go after any infringers at all would be financial Russian roulette, no matter how valid the patent may be.

Re:Licensees should be able to recover their payme (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626649)

I'm confused, you are saying this as like if that should be a bad thing?

Re:Licensees should be able to recover their payme (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626653)

Okay, lets get this right, you think that it is a bad idea that suing people to stop them doing things is financial Russian roulette. Your proposed solution is to leave the situation where merely developing software is financial Russian roulette. You wouldn't be a lawyer by any chance?

Re:Licensees should be able to recover their payme (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626663)

No, there really shouldn't be, that would be worse than the current situation. That would mean that to go after any infringers at all would be financial Russian roulette, no matter how valid the patent may be.

You say this like it is a bad thing, this is how civil court works if you think you have a claim you pay to file the suit and pay for your attorney with no guarantee the judge or jury will find your claims valid. Why should patent cases be any different?

Re:Licensees should be able to recover their payme (3, Insightful)

putaro (235078) | about 8 months ago | (#45626765)

Patent validity shouldn't be random. The patent office should be examining them properly. If you start suing people over your patents you should be sure that you've checked prior art, etc. Many of them patents are obviously bogus but because there's no real penalty for extracting licensing fees for them patent trolling is a viable business.

Re:Licensees should be able to recover their payme (1)

houghi (78078) | about 8 months ago | (#45627947)

This is not about how much they make, but how little the others make.

Expect Nexus phones to have SD cards... (4, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | about 8 months ago | (#45626417)

...that is at least in Germany. Google never wanted to pay any licensing fees. It's been Google's modus operandi for years.

Re:Expect Nexus phones to have SD cards... (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 8 months ago | (#45626555)

This ruling is valid across the whole of the EU. When local courts hear patent cases, they sit as European courts.

Re:Expect Nexus phones to have SD cards... (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 8 months ago | (#45627783)

That is nonsense, the ruling is only valid in germany.
To have a ruling over whole europe you need to appeal to a european court.

Re:Expect Nexus phones to have SD cards... (1)

kthreadd (1558445) | about 8 months ago | (#45627919)

And you're saying that this German court is not european?

Re:Expect Nexus phones to have SD cards... (1, Informative)

jonbryce (703250) | about 8 months ago | (#45628167)

The German court is a European court when it hears patent cases, therefore the ruling does apply all over the EU. We don't have the same separation between State and Federal courts that they have in the USA.

Re:Expect Nexus phones to have SD cards... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626569)

And they shouldn't. Giving in to extortionists will just encourage them.

Re:Expect Nexus phones to have SD cards... (4, Insightful)

citizenr (871508) | about 8 months ago | (#45626597)

Haha, you really think it was about patents and not about forcing users into uploading everything into Google cloud.

One-time vs. recurring fee (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 8 months ago | (#45626893)

The practical problem with "forcing users into uploading everything into Google cloud" is that carriers limit uploads and downloads per month to Google cloud. A lot of people would rather purchase an SD card one time than pay the carrier every month to have access to a larger library while away from Wi-Fi.

Pure money grab by the neo-Nazi regime. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626535)

Enough said?

Re:Pure money grab by the USA? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626625)

there fixed it fer the real nazis

Re:Pure money grab by the neo-Nazi regime. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45627025)

I'd rather do business with Germany thant with the neo-facist regime in the USA.

Now how does that sound?

The reality (which may come as a surprise to Americans reading this), Germany today is far more liberal and deomcratic that the USA ever was. At least you can have a good time at the Oktoberfest. That just wouldn't be allowed in puritan USA.

I've lived and worked in both countries and I know for sure which I'd rather live in if I had to choose and the answer is not the USA. Modern USA is closer to facist Germany than ever. All in the interest of National Security you understand but ... oh shit why bother. The US has its collective head in the sand going Na-na-na-na-na-na I can't see you.

Re:Pure money grab by the neo-Nazi regime. (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 8 months ago | (#45627071)

Just don't mention the war!

Re: Pure money grab by the neo-Nazi regime. (1)

jfengel (409917) | about 8 months ago | (#45627487)

It's all Americans at Oktoberfest anyway.

Re:Pure money grab by the neo-Nazi regime. (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 8 months ago | (#45627821)

Thanks for the comment. I was about to make one like it myself.

I use Russell Simmon's PHAT filesystem (-1, Offtopic)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about 8 months ago | (#45626595)

It's cool and hip and avoids patent issues.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phat_Farm [wikipedia.org]

Re:I use Russell Simmon's PHAT filesystem (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45627003)

^ this is modded a 3? WTF. It's pretty stupid and not related in any way to the topic. It's not even funny. It was a complete waste of my time to follow that link. As a service to others... just don't

File formats? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 8 months ago | (#45626709)

I thought file formats were not patentable anyway. And why hasn't this expired yet?

Re:File formats? (2)

David_Hart (1184661) | about 8 months ago | (#45626767)

I thought file formats were not patentable anyway. And why hasn't this expired yet?

According to the article it expires next year.

Re:File formats? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45627979)

I thought file formats were not patentable anyway. And why hasn't this expired yet?

While you can store FAT in a file, it's not so much a file format, but a filesystem format.

That being said, your question still stands.

fat? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626761)

Fats consist of a wide group of compounds that are generally soluble in organic solvents and generally insoluble in water. Chemically, fats are triglycerides: triesters of glycerol and any of several fatty acids.

Unsaturated fat, saturated fat

never heard of Microsoft FAT before. Is it a new version of the Windows 8 file system?

Re: fat? (0)

Mabhatter (126906) | about 8 months ago | (#45627777)

FAR16 vs FAT32 vs NTFS has been computer talk since the 1990's. Get off our lawn!

Re: fat? (0)

unixisc (2429386) | about 8 months ago | (#45627867)

FAT has been there since the 1980s, as a part of DOS itself

Re: fat? (0)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 8 months ago | (#45627927)

You forgot HPFS

USB sticks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45626825)

I have USB sticks delivered with FAT 16 and FAT 32 and I find it entirely believable MS has a patent on the design. for that file system. This article makes me want to tell Germany (the entire country and all its inhabitants) to SHUT UP! Okay, starting with this one judge.

Re:USB sticks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45627015)

Microsoft lost to German Engineering!

Not useful (4, Interesting)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 8 months ago | (#45626833)

One of the important requirements for a patentable invention is that it must be "useful".

This patent originally covered a way to provide compatibility between short and long file names. But nobody has used short file names in decades.

So now, the "feature" continues to be necessary only so that FAT can provide compatibility with itself. That's like begging the question. The feature no longer has any intrinsic usefulness, and in fact just serves to make the file system format more convoluted and less efficient.

The patent system ought to be changed so that any patent should be revoked once it is no longer useful for its intended purpose. This particular patent has recently been "useful" solely as a way to give Microsoft leverage in the media device market. The covered feature provides zero benefit to end users.

Network effect (2)

tepples (727027) | about 8 months ago | (#45626917)

But nobody has used short file names in decades.

In VFAT, the long file names are interleaved with the counterpart to inodes under UNIX. Each inode contains an 11-byte short file name, and these must be unique within a directory.

So now, the "feature" continues to be necessary only so that FAT can provide compatibility with itself. That's like begging the question.

It's to provide interoperability with the billions of other devices using FAT. How is a network effect [wikipedia.org] necessarily begging the question?

Re:Network effect (3)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 8 months ago | (#45627209)

The network effect is similar to begging the question.

Something is popular because it's popular.

Re:Not useful (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | about 8 months ago | (#45626963)

Sorry, but you describe a useful function. Whether it's relevant any more or not is neither here nor there. If I invent a way to make a clockwork mechanism work more efficiently, that's still an invention, still patentable. And, as Trevor Bayliss shows, still something that should be protected by patents even if it's "old hat".

The real crux of the matter is whether FAT is "obvious to one skilled in the art" which is a much, much, much more relevant and important test of patentability. Fact is, it pretty much is. If you're a filesystem designer and you're handed FAT and told to make it store long file names, FAT LFN's are pretty much one of a million ways to do them - and not even a particularly effective or perfect one.

Lacking such "inventiveness", and being just something that anyone with half a brain could come up with, AND being in a jurisdiction where software patents shouldn't be allowed by the EU courts anyway, that's what means it should be invalidated. By the same token, BTW, Trevor Bayliss would also fail. What he did wasn't invention, just quite a smart combination of two existing technologies. But at least it was a physical invention and not a way to get Linux-based vendors (e.g. TomTom) to pay Microsoft money for Windows-only inventions.

Re:Not useful (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 8 months ago | (#45627265)

Whether it's relevant any more or not is neither here nor there.

I was arguing that it should be.

If I invent a way to make a clockwork mechanism work more efficiently, that's still an invention, still patentable.

And it's useful to someone. People still buy mechanical timekeeping devices, often at a very high price premium.

Short file names aren't useful to anyone in this day and age.

Re:Not useful (0)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 8 months ago | (#45627305)

The patent system ought to be changed so that any patent should be revoked once it is no longer useful for its intended purpose.

If you open source your code, you have fulfilled the intended purpose of the patent system to benefit society, without requiring patents. FLOSS should be immune to patent suits. Furthermore, there is zero evidence that patents themselves fulfill their intended purpose. Indeed, the automotive and fashion industries both innovate in design and sell heavily on design and are very profitable, and yet they are not allowed copyright or design patents. So, there is no evidence that patents are beneficial for society; In fact, I would say we need to prove they are not harmful to society before running the world's economy based on the economically untenable practice of selling ice to Eskimos: Selling ideas to thinking humans; Selling information to folks with computers. You can charge for an igloo to be built, but not the snow. You can charge for a program to be created, but not the bits. You can charge for research to be done, but not the discoveries.

That which is in infinite supply has zero price regardless of cost to create. Leverage your infinite monopoly over your ability to do work, afterwards you have no monopoly on the number of people who can benefit from the work. This is how mechanics, home builders, and every other labor market works: Agree on payment for work (bid), do the work, get paid once for the work. Mechanics don't change each person who drives a car for their benefit. You want more money? Do more work.

Artificial scarcity of information and ideas is counter to the progress of better information and ideas. Think. If you want more information and ideas then would not requiring people to create new works in order to get paid? All speculation such as, "Well if we didn't have patents then companies would X" are evidenced hypothetical bullshit. Those fearing sequestration of ideas are fools: Do not underestimate today's reverse engineers; They have scanning electron microscopes. Access to hardware is game over from a security perspective because the secrets can not be kept from us. Do the damn experiment otherwise we have no evidence to support the current hypothesis.

If you are an engineer or scientist and you are for patents and copyright, then you have rejected the tenets of your craft. There is no evidence to back the belief that patents or copyrights are beneficial. In fact, we know they can be unnecessary, and can be harmful: Engineers do not look for solutions in the patent database because they risk treble damages of foreknowledge of infringement, and risk of a competitor preventing their profit. If it costs less to re-invent the wheel than use established ideas, your patent system is not beneficial to society.

Re:Not useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45628175)

Patents (and other IP law) don't exist for the exclusive purpose of benefiting society. They exist to primarily benefit the inventor/publisher through the mechanism of exclusivity. That sanctioned monopoly is explicitly granted to allow the inventor/publisher to solely profit from their invention or art as a means of incentive to incur the cost and burden of investment. Given that the crux of your argument rests on that assumption it makes much of it moot.

As for your claims that the world is only hurt by such laws, you only need to go back a couple of centuries to the time of guilds and trade secrets to see what the world looks like when we refuse to cooperate due to lack of incentive, or to the days of patronage to see the state and accessibility of music and art to anyone who isn't born into the top echelons of society. Who benefits from that arrangement? The exceedingly few and exceedingly privileged.

Re:Not useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45627337)

But nobody has used short file names in decades.

Except many apps still use it internally to work around their own bugs handling whitespace in filenames. You can do a quick scan by fsutil to know how many such paths are actually used and recorded in registry. That's why Windows 8 still keeps the feature on in C:, through disabled in all other drives.

It's meaningless for Android though. They have no reason to support short naming.

They can't patent FAT ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45627083)

They can't patent FAT! I have prior art - I have been sitting on my couch eating junk food for 20 years.

Problems with FAT? (0)

PPH (736903) | about 8 months ago | (#45627185)

We have a drug [slashdot.org] for that.

INB4 an analogy between using Microsoft products and eating junk food as a lifestyle choice.

Slow down there, cowboy. (1)

westlake (615356) | about 8 months ago | (#45627933)

Forget the Slashdot editor.

Does the Slashdot poster read to the end the stories he cites?

The expected appeal will be interesting because the same senate of the BPatG had previously invalidated it but the BGH then reversed that decision. A reversal may happen again. Despite my longstanding opposition to software patents I have to say, just to be realistic, that this patent is far from finished. Counsel for Microsoft argued today that a finding of nullity for a lack of technicity by the BPatG would be inconsistent with the aforementioned April 2010 ruling by the BGH, paragraphs 31 and 32 of which stated that the patented invention met the technicity criteria under Article 52 of the European Patent Convention, the article in European patent law that prohibits patents on computer programs "as such".

Re:Slow down there, cowboy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45628203)

Slashdot poster probably read to the URL of the story you're now citing, seen "FOSSPatents" and knew it will be biased towards MS so much that Tower of Pisa would look nice and level.

If Lord God Almighty shows up tomorrow booming "These patents are invalid!", Florian would just say "Well, we didn't hear what Pope has to say about this, did we?", as long as patents in question belong to MS or Oracle.

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