July 1, 2009

New Linux Patch Could Circumvent Microsoft's FAT Patents

Article Source Ars Technica
July 1, 2009, 6:15 pm

Microsoft's recent lawsuit against TomTom, alleging infringement of filesystem patents, has left many questions unanswered about the legal implications of distributing open source implementations of Microsoft's FAT filesystem. A new Linux kernel patch that was published last week offers a workaround that might make it possible to continue including FAT in Linux without using methods that are covered by Microsoft's patents.

The patent dispute erupted in February when Microsoft sued portable navigation device maker TomTom. Microsoft claimed that TomTom's Linux-based GPS products infringe on several of its patents, including two that cover specific characteristics of FAT, a filesystem devised by Microsoft that is widely used on removable storage devices such as USB thumb drives and memory cards. The dispute escalated when TomTom retaliated with a counter-suit, but it was eventually settled in March when TomTom agreed to remove the relevant functionality...

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