While the US courts recently reaffirmed Microsoft’s FAT patents, the German Patent Federal Court has just dismissed the patent for use in Germany. According to a report in the German news publication Heise Online, the court has denied the protection that the European Patent Office granted to Microsoft under EP 0618540 for a “common namespace for long and short filenames”. This was based on Microsoft’s U.S. Patent No. 5,758,352. The German Patent Court stated that the patent claims Microsoft made are “not based on inventive activity”.
Microsoft Fails to Patent FAT in Germany
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2007-03-13 6:37 pmAlmafeta
Apparently, there’s something quite witty about this post that I’m not understanding.
Fat chance they’ll be able to appeal this.
2007-03-13 6:42 pmshykid
Best pun ever.
2007-03-13 8:14 pmraver31
No point appealing it, last time we looked, Germany was part of the EU and software patents are null and void EU wide.
I actually don’t mind the idea of software patents – the problem is that 99.9% of them are either obvious or based on something else, which aren’t supposed to be eligible.
2007-03-13 6:49 pmshykid
That’s why I am against them. The nature of software evolution is incompatible with patents–very rarely do software companies invent something that is completely, truly new and innovative; every new feature and improvement is already based on something pioneered earlier, which was itself based on something else pioneered before that.
2007-03-13 6:57 pmFord Prefect
This holds true for engineering inventions, too.
I think the biggest difference is how fast software evolves. A patent time of one or two years for example would be much more reasonably and would reflect the original idea behind the patent system: Make inventors share their invention with the society! But in the software world, more than anyone else, they are just blocking.
2007-03-13 7:08 pmsmitty
Yes, software patents should definitely be only a couple of years. 20 years (i think?) is forever in the software world. Sometimes I agree with the other poster – that software patents are so screwed up and abused that the only sane way to go is to invalidate all of them. But occasionally I come across something I think is deserving.
Edited 2007-03-13 19:09
2007-03-13 9:09 pmkmarius
Sometimes it can take a lot of time to make a practical implementation of a patent. I think the patent time should initially be at least 4 years, but if they release a product they should only get 2 years from the software’s release date.
2007-03-13 11:42 pmLobotomik
It is not at all a matter of how fast it evolves. It is a matter of ridiculously obvious concepts being accepted as inventions.
It’s not a matter of how fast software evolves. It is a matter of unethical corporations that take a public domain conceptual base that covers 99.999% of what they’re doing, then add .001% of a pretendedly inventive, patented secret sauce, and use that tenuous sprinkling of IP as a roadblock that prevents the rest of the world from using the common base and evolving it any further.
Every dollar a company receives as a royalty for a software patent should return 99 pennies to the software commons whereupon it is based, without which the patent would be meaningless, and of which it would be otherwise profiting for free. Talk about stealing IP.
2007-03-14 12:37 amFord Prefect
Your right about these “patent trolls”. But obviously, you can’t abandon the whole system just because of that.
I know this is a big mess and wouldn’t like to have any software patents, too. It’s just if you go and tell them “skip software patents, most of them are ridiculous” they will just tell you “ok, so we don’t accept any rediculous patents” (which they obviously do, because they get money out of it)…. :/
Go German Patent Federal Court!
Seriously: I think this was the right thing to do and good for us consumers/buyers.
Example: the SD card in my camera is FAT formatted, I do not know of digital cameras accepting media w/ any other filesystems. Same for my mobile, my son´s mobile and my SO’s mp3 player and PDA.
Imagine: MS gets FAT(12,16 or 32, whatever) properly patented in EU, then, in 2-5 yrs, demands royalties on all FAT formatted media or device firmware or OS (mobile, PDA, player, etc) that utilises FAT.
Is that course of events possible, if MS gets their way?
I want to patent a new type of OS. It will be slow, bloated, DRM Infected, expensive and require most people to buy new computers just to use it……..forget it, an OS like that already exists.
2007-03-13 7:49 pmronaldst
You want MacOS X? O_o
2007-03-13 8:18 pmm_abs
Obviously not, he said bloated.
2007-03-13 8:24 pmSupreme Dragon
“You want MacOS X? O_o”
I was talking about Vista. MS should file a patent for: “Worst OS Ever”. Even MS Bob was not infected with DRM and was not priced this high.
2007-03-13 9:06 pmarchiesteel
Please stop trolling. Both of you.
This is putrid.
FAT was developed in the 70s. If I read it right, the patents were just issued in 2005. Since patents are only good for 17 years (right?), they would have expired nearly two times over by now if it was patented when it was first coded.
Microsoft will be patenting the pencil eraser next. That’s something that doesn’t have a patent yet.
2007-03-13 8:08 pmTommyD
Microsoft will be patenting the pencil eraser next.
You mean the Mobile Print Eradication System?
2007-03-13 8:57 pmRentedMule
Actually, what is patented is their storage of long file names on FAT, aka VFAT. Simply, preceeding a file entry on the file system, there are a bunch of psuedo-file entries (IE They are marked deleted) that make up the long file name. This is why a VFAT system will still work on DOS… because the long file names are represented as deleted file entries
2007-03-13 11:26 pmDoc Pain
“This is why a VFAT system will still work on DOS… because the long file names are represented as deleted file entries”
Geoworks Ensemble 3.0 hat long file names, too. They were stored in the 8.3 files itself, as far as I know. So one could copy 8.3 file names using DOS and still having the long file names available in GWE. This took place before any MICROS~1 “invention”, if I remember correctly.
2007-03-14 10:00 ammark15
“Doc Pain” wrote:
“Geoworks Ensemble 3.0 hat long file names, too. They were stored in the 8.3 files itself, as far as I know. So one could copy 8.3 file names using DOS and still having the long file names available in GWE. This took place before any MICROS~1 “invention”, if I remember correctly.”
The innovation came probably from Gary Kildall and his CP/M 3.0 (1980?). He introduced there quasi directory file entries for keeping time and date while being compatible with older CP/M versions. (If I remember corectly…:-)
2007-03-14 6:55 pmGoverna
Quoting: Since patents are only good for 17 years (right?)
20 years. Close enough.
It’s called the Predictive Hyper-Allocation Table file system. Its hallmark it that it pre-allocates a large number of file handles for each application, thus speeding up significantly the reading and writing of data. Of course, you probably know it as the PHAT file system…
There are some postings here about why software patents are bad or unneeded. I think they are all wrong. There is a simple and undeniable reason why software patents are nonsense: They are not needed. The sole reason for the existence of patents is to improve the situation of the consumer, by stimulating the creating of new inventions. That’s right, patents are *not* intended to protect companies – in fact, companies have *no* right to be protected other than to help the consumers.
But for software, nothing like patents is needed. Software inventions are made in an amazing pace without patents for some decades now. If this pace slows down, then there might be reason to reconsider patents. Until then, patents are nonsense.
2007-03-14 8:52 pmflypig
I think you make a very good point, especially about the fact that the intention of patents is to benefit the consumer. However, I think it is worth reiterating Ford Prefect’s point above that one of those benefits is supposed to be to promote the full public recording and documentation of inventions for future society. Stimulating research and development is also arguably a consequence of patents, but I don’t think it’s the only one.
For example, if a company wants a temporary monopoly on a search ranking algorithm they would have to patent it, which means they also have to document it in full. Otherwise if the company were to disappear overnight, it would have to be reinvented.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that although there is lots of invention in the software industry, that’s not to say that a proper patent system wouldn’t generate more, longer term projects with even greater vision.
As it happens, I’m not personally convinced that software patents are needed for many of the reasons you state, and also because of the detrimental effect they might have on open source. However, that’s not to say that there might not also be some benefit in them.
..but in the US, I guess you’ll have to go directly to jail if you write any hidden software with attributes that violate the patent. Best make sure your system software is free of this, and that you haven’t archived any code that might expose you to a lawsuit.
Is if FAT is developed by Microsoft, why do all new floppy disks using the FAT12 file system state ‘IBM formatted’ on the package?
…just wanted to ask
2007-03-13 10:17 pmKenJackson
In the 80’s, PCs were always called IBM PCs or IBM compatible PCs. Even when Compaq came out with the first ‘386, and IBM went there own way with the MCIbus instead of EISA, everyone still called everything “IBM compatible”.
I thought we had finally dropped that bit of silliness, but now you’re telling me the floppy makers haven’t heard that IBM doesn’t make PCs anymore. Boy.
off topic maybe, but FAT has nothing to do with Samba as the article states.
The original Heise article (in English here http://www.heise.de/english/newsticker/news/86141) doesn’t even mention Samba.
No~t ba~~sed ~n ~nve~tive ac~~t~ivity~?
W~hat ~w~s th~ j~dge th~nk~~ng???