Thursday, September 30, 2004

Initial Office Action in reexamination of ' 517 FAT patent

There was an initial rejection of claims in the re-examination by the USPTO of one patent of Microsoft covering File Allocation Table (FAT) technology. The Public Patent Foundation had announced in April that it had submitted a request for a reexamination of Microsoft's US Patent No. 5,579,517.
(see A copy of the Office Action is available.

The "next step" will be for Microsoft to respond to the first Office Action. At this point in time, the patent is valid.

Microsoft's licensing program involves

5,579,517: "Common name space for long and short filenames"
5,745,902: "Method and system for accessing a file using file names having different file name formats"
5,758,352: "Common name space for long and short filenames"
6,286,013: "Method and system for providing a common name space for long and short file names in an operating system"

All four of these patents deal with the virtual FAT, a system driver that acts as an interface between an application and the system's FAT. One of the limitations of the FAT file system technology is that it can store only files with eight-letter words; VFAT allows for the longer file names commonly used to today.


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