CyberTech Rambler

April 1, 2009

TomTom case: Microsoft ending up blessing a non-infringing FAT?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:49 pm

PJ’s take on Jim Zemlin post on TomTom is the advise to industry to ditch FAT system because it is patent-incumbered. I have news for them both, my belief is that the industry knows about it and unlike us, is prepared to accept RAND licensing condition. They might even privately “prefer” the RAND licensing condition, coz it means there will be less competition, i.e., if you cannot pay the license you cannot develop the thing you want to develop which might compete with them. Even better since this means the most feared competition, i.e. the competition that drive price to zero, i.e., open source, cannot play.

I want to highlight what Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols pick up. Initially I thought what TomTom will do is to revert to the old 8.3 format ( 8 character filename, 3 character extension). But  when I read him blogging that since TomTom only paid to use the patents for two years, and this  “… implies that TomTom will be replacing the long file name support provided by these patents with a different, non-Microsoft, technology.”, I woke up and realize that TomTom might be keeping the log filename support with FAT system it has, but implementing a workaround for the patents.

That workaround will be a FAT implemention that does not infringe on Microsoft patents. It might be buying into some other FAT implemention that does not infringe on the patents. It is safe to presume that at the end of the two years, TomTom must present some sort of paper work saying that it has stopped infringement and Microsoft will have to recipocate with a confirmation paperwork or at the minimum point out which patent it thinks TomTom is still infringing. Regardless of the case, the crucial point that is going to be a FAT implementation that is blessed by Microsoft to be non-infringing.

The significance besides Microsoft scoring an own goal? Almost everyone’s wet dream comes true. Although I think the industry should actually move to a totally patent-free File System because if even if TomTom’s selected FAT implementation is free of Microsoft patent, you cannot modify or improve on it and this is a big hinderance to evolution of the file system itself and something to avoid, I can see that it will resolve the Microsoft FAT patents for the time being, and put a lot of eggs on FAT licensees who fork out.

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