USPTO to Review Microsoft FAT Patent

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has agreed to a request that it reexamine a patent granted to Microsoft covering the FAT (File Allocation Table) file system used in Windows.

A non-profit group called The Public Patent Foundation asked the USPTO in April to revoke the patent on grounds that FAT has become a ubiquitous format found in numerous devices. FAT is also used by the open source community to provide communication between Windows and UNIX-based systems.

Microsoft announced last year that it was looking to license FAT, sparking fears Redmond would wield its legal prowess against the fledgling Linux market.

"We are obviously very pleased with the Patent Office's decision to grant our request to reexamine Microsoft's FAT patent," said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT's Executive Director and Founder, in a statement. "This is the first step towards ending the harm being caused to the public by this patent that should have never been issued."

Microsoft said the review would give the company a chance to prove the legitmacy of its patent.

"At this point, we have the opportunity to demonstrate why this file system innovation deserves patent protection," said David Kaefer, director of Microsoft's intellectual property and licensing group, in a statement. "The USPTO often grants reexamination requests and they provide an important mechanism to assure high levels of patent quality."

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