Congrats to Public Patent, a patent-busting org that targetted Microsoft's bogus patent on the FAT file-system. Today, the Patent Office
disallowed claims in MSFT's patent, which means that Microsoft can no longer shake down technologists who want to make tools that use FAT (like digital cameras and USB card-readers).
Relying predominantly on evidence provided by PUBPAT when the reexamination was requested, the Patent Office made multiple rejections of the Redmond, WA based software giant's patent. Microsoft has the opportunity to respond to the Patent Office's rejection, but third party requests for reexamination, like the one filed by PUBPAT, are successful in having the subject patent either narrowed or completely revoked roughly 70% of the time.
"The Patent Office has simply confirmed what we already knew for some time now, Microsoft's FAT patent is bogus," said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT's Executive Director. "I hope those companies that chose to take a license from Microsoft for the patent negotiated refund clauses so that they can get their money back."
Updated: Paul Hoffman sez, "Only the claims were rejected, and even that is probably temporary. Most patent applications have some or all of their claims rejected; the applicant then goes into a game of footsie with the examiner, coming out with either fewer claims or the same number of claims with a narrower focus. Sometimes the examiner simply says 'oh, you're right' and un-rejects; sometimes the examiner says 'no, you're actually hosed', but that is much less common than it should be.
"If Microsoft is left with a single claim out of the four, even if it is narrowed, they will still most likely be able to flog it against anyone using the FAT filesystem. Narrowing claims is only interesting in cases where someone makes something *like* the patent; then they hope that the claims are narrowed to less than what they are possibly infringing on. In the case of FAT, unless the claims are somehow narrowed down so far that you can implement FAT and not infringe on what Microsoft might end up with, PubPat's effort is not useful to the folks who want to implement FAT."
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