Friday, June 18, 2004

USPTO Agrees to Reassess Microsoft's FAT Patent
The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently agreed to reexamine Microsoft's controversial FAT patent, which covers an aging version of the technology behind the Windows file system. The reexamination is courtesy of a petition from the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), which feared that Microsoft could use the patent to hobble Linux because Linux uses a free Windows operability tool called Samba, which needs access to FAT to read and write files to Windows systems. PUBPAT believes that Microsoft can use wrongly issued patents to harm the public by "making things more expensive, if not impossible to afford" and "by restraining civil liberties and individual freedoms." PUBPAT points to a Microsoft description of FAT that it says explains the reexamination: "FAT is the ubiquitous format used for interchange of media between computers, and, since the advent of inexpensive, removable flash memory, also between digital devices."

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