|FROM ||Mike Richardson - NYLXS PRESIDENT
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [hangout] part2 Re: [DMCA_Discuss] Microsoft to start charging for FAT format
On Fri, 5 Dec 2003, Larry Blunk wrote:
> The patents listed below were all filed in the 1990's and are
> all related to an extension which allows the use long filenames
> in the FAT filesystem. Since they were filed in the 1990's, they
> clearly cannot cover the original FAT filesystem invented in 1976.
> The original FAT filesystem only allowed filenames up to 11 characters
> (up to 8 characters + "." + 3 character extension). A FAT filesystem
> which employs the long filename extension is sometimes called VFAT. The
> extension is meant to be backwards compatible with older versions
> of DOS and Windows in that it hides the long versions of the filenames
> in unseen directory entries. Older versions of DOS and Windows
> simply see a shortened version of the filename which is stored in the
> standard filename location.
> There are 3 basic variants of the FAT filesystem which define the
> maximum size of the filesystem and the minimum cluster allocation sizes.
> Namely, FAT12, FAT16, and FAT32. FAT12 is the original FAT filesystem
> and continues to be used on floppy disks today. The maximum filesystem
> supported by FAT12 is 16 MB. FAT16 allows filesystems up to 2GB in size.
> FAT32 was introduced in Win95 OSR2 and bumps the maximum filesystem size
> up to 2 terabytes.
> The VFAT long filename extension may be employed with any of the
> above 3 basic FAT variants. As far as I can tell, the patents below
> do not apply to the basic FAT12, FAT16, and FAT32 formats, only to the
> VFAT long filename algorithm.
> So, as long as flash card manufacturers merely pre-format their cards
> without creating any actual files (or only creates files with the
> standard short filenames), I do not see how they are infringing
> on the Microsoft patents.
> It would seem to me there is a fairly strong antitrust
> argument to be made here. Particularly since Microsoft is making
> these inflated claims after the FAT filesystem has become a defacto
> standard for flash cards.
> Larry J. Blunk
> --- "Jon O." wrote:
> > http://www.dpreview.com/news/0312/03120403microsoftisfat.asp
> > Microsoft will soon be charging manufacturers of flash memory card devices and
> > those which use them $0.25 per unit or up to $250,000 to use the FAT
> > filesystem. For those who are unaware the FAT file system was developed by
> > Microsoft back in 1976 and has become the standard file system for all digital
> > still cameras. Microsoft owns patents to the FAT File System but for many years
> > hasn't even hinted that it may one day decide to charge for it. These new
> > licenses appear to come into effect immediately and specifically make mention
> > of 'compact flash memory cards' and 'portable digital still cameras'. What a
> > great way for Microsoft to cash in on the most popular consumer products (as if
> > they don't make enough money already).
> > Phil: Surely flash memory manufacturers can get around this by simply not
> > pre-formatting cards?
> > Press Release:
> > FAT File System Technology and Patent License
> > December 3, 2003
> > Most operating systems store computer files by dividing the file into smaller
> > pieces and storing those pieces in separate clusters of a hard disk, floppy
> > disk, or flash memory card. The FAT file system allows an operating system to
> > keep track of the location and sequence of each piece of a file, and also
> > allows the operating system to identify which clusters are unassigned and
> > available for new files. When a computer user wants to read a file, the FAT
> > file system also reassembles each piece of the file into one unit for viewing.
> > The first FAT file system was developed by Microsoft in 1976. That system was
> > based on the BASIC programming language and allowed programs and data to be
> > stored on a floppy disk. Since that time, the FAT file system has been improved
> > upon multiple times to take advantage of advances in computer technology, and
> > to further refine and enrich the FAT file system itself.
> > Today, the FAT File system has become the ubiquitous format used for
> > interchange of media between computers, and, since the advent of inexpensive,
> > removable flash memory, also between digital devices. The FAT file system is
> > now supported by a wide variety of operating systems running on all sizes of
> > computers, from servers to personal digital assistants. In addition, many
> > digital devices such as still and video cameras, audio recorders, video game
> > systems, scanners, and printers make use of FAT file system technology.
> > Microsoft is offering to license its FAT file system specification and
> > associated intellectual property. With this license, other companies have the
> > opportunity to standardize the FAT file system implementation in their
> > products, and to improve file system compatibility across a range of computing
> > and consumer electronics devices.
> > If you are interested in obtaining a license, please contact our Intellectual
> > Property and Licensing Group at fatspec-at-microsoft.com for more information.
> > Pricing and Licensing
> > Microsoft offers a commercially reasonable, nonexclusive license so that other
> > companies can use the FAT file system in their own products. Currently,
> > Microsoft offers two specific types of licenses:
> > * A license for removable solid state media manufacturers to preformat the
> > media, such as compact flash memory cards, to the Microsoft FAT file system
> > format, and to preload data onto such preformatted media using the Microsoft
> > FAT file system format. Pricing for this license is US$0.25 per unit with a cap
> > on total royalties of $250,000 per manufacturer.
> > * A license for manufacturers of certain consumer electronics devices.
> > Pricing for this license is US$0.25 per unit for each of the following types of
> > devices that use removable solid state media to store data: portable digital
> > still cameras; portable digital video cameras; portable digital still/video
> > cameras; portable digital audio players; portable digital video players;
> > portable digital audio/video players; multifunction printers; electronic photo
> > frames; electronic musical instruments; and standard televisions. Pricing for
> > this license is US$0.25 per unit with a cap on total royalties of $250,000 per
> > licensee. Pricing for other device types can be negotiated with Microsoft.
> > Microsoft's FAT file system license offers limited rights to issued and pending
> > Microsoft patents on FAT file system technology, as well as rights to implement
> > the Microsoft FAT file system specification. In order to ensure
> > interoperability between the licensed media and devices and Microsoft®
> > Windows®-based personal computers and to improve consumer experience, the
> > license requires that licensees' FAT file system implementations in the
> > licensed media and devices be fully compliant with certain required portions of
> > the Microsoft FAT file system specification. To help licensees implement the
> > FAT file system, Microsoft will also provide certain reference source code and
> > test specifications as part of the licensing package in both licenses.
> > In some cases, companies may wish to negotiate broader or narrower rights than
> > the standard Microsoft license for FAT file systems. In this case, pricing may
> > vary. Microsoft remains flexible to adjust terms to reflect crosslicensing,
> > unit volume, version limitation, geographic scope, and other considerations.
> > FAT File System.Related Patents
> > The FAT file system licensing program includes rights to a number of U.S.
> > Patents, including:
> > U.S. Patent #5,579,517
> > U.S. Patent #5,745,902
> > U.S. Patent #5,758,352
> > U.S. Patent #6,286,013
> > In addition, the FAT file system licensing package includes rights to FAT file
> > system innovations for which Microsoft has filed a claim for a patent that the
> > U.S. Patent Office has not yet granted. This licensing program also provides
> > licensees rights to Microsoft FAT file system issued and pending patents
> > outside the United States, and to the Microsoft FAT file system specification
> > and certain test specifications.
> > _______________________________________________
> > ------------------------
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