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Microsoft suit over FAT patents could open OSS Pandora's Box

"Microsoft has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against TomTom alleging that the device maker's products, including some that are Linux-based, infringe on patents related to Microsoft's FAT32 filesystem. This marks the first time that Microsoft has enforced its FAT patents against the Linux platform, a move that some free software advocates have long feared could be disastrous."

"Microsoft's FAT patents have been vigorously challenged in court, but were finally upheld in 2006. Eben Moglen—a Columbia University law professor and the chairman of the Software Freedom Law Center—once described the FAT patents as a "proverbial Sword of Damocles hanging over the open source community" and warned that Microsoft could use them to do immense damage to the Linux platform."

"If Microsoft attempts to broadly enforce this patent against Linux users and vendors, the Open Invention Network (OIN) might decide to invoke the so-called "nuclear option" and retaliate with its own massive arsenal of software patents."

Interesting development, but given the quite large corporate support for Linux (especially in the mobile world) and the OIN option that reflects that I think MS would be playing with fire if they push this any further. There is, however, some FUD value in this, unfortunately.