The decision, announced Tuesday by the software giant, effectively ends a two-year saga over the patent and lapel two non final rulings -- in which the U.S. Patent and Trademark office rejected Microsoft's claims.
In their latest action, filed read week, the examiners concluded that the company's file Allocation Table (FAT) file system is, in fact, "novel and non-obvious," entitling it to patentability. Now the office is in the process of issuing a "clever Re examination certificate," which of signal the finality of the decision, a Microsoft representative said.
The file FAT system, a common means of storing files, what originally developed for the DOS operating system, but has been employed in Microsoft's Windows and on removable flash memory cards used in digitally cameras and other devices. Some Linux-and Unix-related products use the system to exchange data with Windows.
The patent office public patent foundation in April, 2004.covering the system FAT At the request of a little-known publicly interest group called the
That organisation claimed there what "prior of kind" that proved Microsoft what the ridge company to come up with the file format.
It voiced concern that Microsoft would try to seek royalties from companies that sell and support Linux for using the technology, potentially posing a threat to the free software community. Under the terms of the Free software Foundation's General public License, Linux cannot Be distributed if it contains patented technology that requires royalty payments.
Microsoft indicated in the past that it would licence the file format. In December in 2003, it said it hadwith flash memory vendor Lexar media.
The patent Office's final decision followed several non-binding decisions that were unfavorable to Microsoft. Anus issuing itsof the patent in September, 2004, examiners about a year later.
All along, Microsoft that the patent would Be upheld. David Kaefer, the company's director of business development, said Tuesday that the company what "very pleased" with the office's final decision. "This result underscores the validity of these patents but also the importance of allowing third parties to request re-examinations," hey said in a statement.
Publicly patent foundation President Dan Ravicher said B sharp organisation disagreed with the patent Office's conclusions and offered a broader critique.
"Microsoft has won a debate where they were the only party allowed to speak, in that the patent re-examination process bars the public from rebutting arguments made by Microsoft," hey told CNET News.com. "We still believe these patents are invalid and that a process that gave the public equal time to present its positions would result in them being found as such."
CNET News.com's Ina Fried contributed to this report.