Microsoft is bringing its exFAT patents to Linux and open source

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In a move that will likely please the open source community, Microsoft has announced that it is making its exFAT patents available to Linux and open source via the Open Invention Network (OIN).

After years of using its patents to profit from open source products, the software giant has had a change of heart and the company made 60,000 of its own patents open source last year. Now Microsoft is continuing its open source push by supporting the addition of its exFAT patents to the Linux kernel.

ExFAT is based on the file allocation table (FAT) file system architecture which was one of the first file systems used on floppy disks. FAT later became Microsoft's file system for MS-DOS, Windows and many other applications. The company created exFAT to extend FAT to flash memory storage devices including USB drives and SD cards in 2006.

ExFAT patents

In a blog post, Microsoft distinguished engineer and Linux Foundation board member, John Gossman explained why the company decided to bring exFAT to Linux, saying:

“It’s important to us that the Linux community can make use of exFAT included in the Linux kernel with confidence. To this end, we will be making Microsoft’s technical specification for exFAT publicly available to facilitate development of conformant, interoperable implementations. We also support the eventual inclusion of a Linux kernel with exFAT support in a future revision of the Open Invention Network’s Linux System Definition, where, once accepted, the code will benefit from the defensive patent commitments of OIN’s 3040+ members and licensees.”

With the release of the next edition of the Linux System Definition during the first quarter of 2020, any member of OIN will be able to use exFAT without be required to pay a patent royalty. Membership to the open source patent protection consortium is also free for any company that is willing to share its patents with others regardless of whether they have any patents of their own.

Via ZDNet

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.