I reported a while ago on the issue of Microsoft’s FAT patents in Linux. TomTom (the GPS maker) were sued by Microsoft for alleged patent infringements because they used code from Linux to access the FAT file system, which is covered by Microsoft’s patent. Ultimately, they settled out of court and the issue was not used as a test case. Most engineers would argue that the patents were probably invalid. The trouble is that as long as the issue is not cleared up, Microsoft can use the FAT patent to muddy the waters when it comes to the adoption of Linux for a number of things.
Seems like the Linux people have come up with a plausible solution though. Supposedly, the Microsoft patent covers the ability of generating a long filename and a 8.3 filename. Users of MS-DOS will remember that filenames were all limited to 8.3 characters in the past until Microsoft introduced the ability to have up to 255 characters in filenames. Every file on disk can be accessed with either a long filename or a 8.3 filename. In fact, every long filename is mapped to a unique 8.3 filename.
The technical work around is to generate either the long filename only or the short 8.3 filename only. That’s it. Let me say that again. Supposedly, the Microsoft patent covers the ability to generate a long filename and a short filename while the Linux work around generates either a long filename or a short filename only.
I am not a lawyer but if this works, it’s just brill.