Summary: Despite elimination of file system patents, the road remains long in the struggle for software freedom
THE FFII’S mailing lists started debating the news about Microsoft’s FAT patents. “You know the malaria thing,” said their president, quoting Richard Stallman as saying that “fighting patents one by one will never eliminate the danger of software patents, any more than swatting mosquitos will eliminate malaria.”
One subscriber asked: “It is the same patent that was recognized by German Court?”
“Yes,” replied another person, “it is 352 patent.”
Shane McGlaun notes that:
I’m betting this is really good news for smartphone makers. Open-source poster boy Linus Torvalds stepped up and helped stop a Microsoft patent from being used to choke licensing fees out of other companies. The patent Microsoft owns is being used to force Google Android and Linux handset users to pay licensing fees.
This is indeed, based on what the OIN's CEO told me, what Microsoft often uses to tax Linux and Android. Torvalds’ fight against the FAT patent (he thinks the patent fight is a sign of Microsoft's business dying) is definitely big news and one that other pro-Linux sites are addressing:
There is a Microsoft patent #352 which deals with “storing filenames with lots of characters in old filesystems such as the Windows FAT (File Allocation Table) filesystem that are designed to use very short filenames. Mobile phone makers use this type of technology so that their devices interoperate with other operating systems, including Windows,” reports Wired. You can read more about the patent here.
This whole development helps show that Torvalds takes a stand against patents, even though he tolerates and even “likes’ Tivoization. We ought to remember that TiVo is bad not just for this practice but also for patent aggression. As one Microsoft booster puts it:
TiVo today accused Motorola and Time Warner Cable, a Motorola Customer, of violating patents covering the company’s digital video recorder technology.
Let’s hope that Torvalds will decide to do about Tivoization what he already does about software patents. Both are detrimental to users of software, which is just about everyone in the twenty-first century. █