Microsoft has announced a FAT file system licensing scheme that will charge manufacturers of solid state media and certain consumer electronics devices up to $250,000. Manufacturers will be charged $0.25 per unit up to a maximum of $250,000, but they’ll get some reference source code as part of the deal.
For manufacturers of solid state media, FAT royalties should be easy to sidestep by selling unformatted media. Unfortunately, consumer electronics manufacturers whose devices require pre-loaded software won’t be able to get away with selling unformatted drives unless they rely on consumers to install device software themselves.
Microsoft’s FAT-related patents appear to only refer to long file name implementations, so that may be another loophole for manufacturers to consider. However, I can’t help but think that the $0.25 fee up to a maximum of $250,000 is a pretty token royalty, all things considered.