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FAT File System Technology License

IP Licensing


The FAT file system allows an operating system to keep track of the location and sequence of each piece of a file. Additionally, it allows the operating system to identify the clusters that are unassigned and available for new files. When a computer user wants to read a file, the FAT file system also reassembles each piece of the file into one unit for viewing. Today, the FAT file system has become the ubiquitous format that is used for interchange of media between computers. Since the advent of inexpensive, removable flash memory, the FAT file system has become the format that is also used between digital devices.

Pricing and Licensing

Microsoft is offering to license its FAT file system specification and associated intellectual property. With this license, other companies have the opportunity to standardize the FAT file system implementation in their products and to improve file system compatibility across a range of computing and consumer electronics devices. Currently, Microsoft offers the following two specific types of licenses:

  • A license for removable solid state media manufacturers—These manufacturers can pre-format the media to the Microsoft FAT file system format, such as with compact flash memory cards, and then preload data onto the pre-formatted media using the Microsoft FAT file system format. Pricing for this license is US$0.25 per unit with a cap on total royalties of $250,000 per manufacturer.
  • A license for manufacturers of certain consumer electronics devices—Pricing for this license is $0.25 per unit for each of the following types of devices that use removable solid state media to store data:
    • Portable digital still cameras
    • Portable digital video cameras
    • Portable digital still/video cameras
    • Portable digital audio players
    • Portable digital video players
    • Portable digital audio and video players
    • Multifunction printers
    • Electronic photo frames
    • Electronic musical instruments
    • Standard televisions
  • Pricing for this license is $0.25 per unit with a cap on total royalties of $250,000 per licensee. Pricing for other device types can be negotiated with Microsoft.

The Microsoft FAT file system license offers limited rights to issued and pending Microsoft patents on FAT file system technology with regard to implementation of the Microsoft FAT file system specification. To make sure interoperability between the licensed media and devices and Microsoft Windows-based personal computers is in effect—and to improve consumer experience— the license requires that licensees' FAT file system implementations in the licensed media and devices are fully compliant with certain required portions of the Microsoft FAT file system specification. To help licensees implement the FAT file system, Microsoft will provide certain reference source code and test specifications as part of the licensing package with both licenses. Sometimes, companies may want to negotiate broader or narrower rights than the standard Microsoft license for FAT file systems. In this case, prices may vary. Microsoft remains flexible to adjust terms to reflect cross licensing, unit volume, version limitation, geographic scope, and other considerations.

If you are interested in obtaining a license, please contact our Intellectual Property and Licensing Group for more information.

FAT File System—Related Patents

The FAT file system licensing program includes rights with regard to implementation of the Microsoft FAT file system specification under a number of U.S. Patents that include the following:

  • U.S. Patent #5,579,517
  • U.S. Patent #5,758,352
  • U.S. Patent #6,286,013

Additionally, the FAT file system licensing package includes rights to FAT file system innovations for which Microsoft has filed a claim for a patent that the U.S. Patent Office has not yet granted. This licensing program also provides licensees with rights to Microsoft FAT file system issued and pending patents outside the United States and to the Microsoft FAT file system specification and certain test specifications.

This document describes the FAT file system specification and intellectual property licensing program as of December, 2005. Microsoft reserves the right to make modifications to the terms and conditions of this licensing program at any time. The licenses presented here do not provide rights beyond those explicitly stated above, including rights to other Microsoft patents, technical know-how or other forms of intellectual property.

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