Link :,1895,1910596,00.asp

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's decision to uphold Microsoft's patent on FAT file technology may compel consumer-electronics manufacturers to reopen licensing negotiations with Microsoft.
But who's picking up the check?

Although the USPTO upheld Microsoft's patent on Wednesday, the company has actively owned and sought to license the technology since 2003. Recently, however, the FAT patent has existed in somewhat of a legal limbo since the Public Patent Foundation challenged it in Sept. 2004.

The FAT patent ruling will have two effects: one, to possibly threaten the use of free operating systems like some Linux derivatives that can be coded to access FAT files; and two, as a stick to encourage hardware companies to license Microsoft's FAT technology.

A wide swath of companies may consider themselves subject to Microsoft's FAT File System Technology License, which seeks royalties of 25 cents per unit sold, plus $250,000 per company for firms which manufacture flash memory cards.