On 18 th September 2012, Microsoft Corp. announced that they have signed a patent licensing agreement with Reliance In Motion (RIM) that gives RIM access to the latest Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) for certain BlackBerry® devices.

The need for a common file system for data sharing across multiple platforms and products have increased due to use of media across different products. Microsoft’s exFAT file system is capable of handling large file sizes and can be implemented on any platform. exFAT is a modern file system that facilitates large files for audiovisual media and enables seamless data portability and an easy interchange between desktops and other electronic devices.

exFAT is an improvement over its predecessor, the FAT system. It greatly expands the size of files that flash memory devices can handle by five times. It also increases the speed with which those files can be accessed. The exFAT file system enables seamless data portability and also facilitates large files for use of audiovisual media. It also helps to facilitate easy interchange between desktop PCs and a variety of electronic devices.

Microsoft offers flexible IP licensing programs that give companies access to many of the foundational technologies in its own products, allowing those companies to build devices, applications and services that work seamlessly with each other.Since Microsoft launched its IP licensing program in December 2003, the company has entered into more than 1100 licensing agreements and continues to develop programs that make it possible for customers, partners and competitors to access its IP portfolio. The program was developed to open access to Microsoft’s significant R&D investments and its growing, broad patent and IP portfolio.

Microsoft offers a flexible Intellectual Property (IP) licensing program for their exFAT file system.   Windows Vista SP1 and later desktop operating systems include the exFAT file system and a redistributable package is available for Windows XP, enabling seamless file exchange between desktop computers and personal devices, such as digital cameras and mobile phones. Additionally, exFAT is relatively simple and easy to implement.

Extended file allocation table (exFAT) is a new file system that is better adapted to the growing needs of mobile personal storage. Inheriting its base from FAT, exFAT can be implemented with minimal effort. In addition, to add transaction support exFAT implementation (TexFAT) can be done to ensure transaction-safe operations.

On reading the news article in Times of India dated 18th September, 2012; my team carried out a patent portfolio for exFAT technology from Microsoft Corp. On carrying out extensive search we found out that these are the patents that might have been licensed to RIM by Microsoft Corp. to be used by RIM in their new smartphones.

There were 71 patents which are related to this exFAT technology and they have been given below with US patent number and the title of the patent:

8,200,952-Platform authentication via a transparent second factor

8,156,165-Transaction-safe FAT files system

8,145,735-Configuring network settings using portable storage media

8,121,061-Efficient file management through granular opportunistic locking

8,086,565-File system watcher in the presence of different file systems

8,078,639-File system filters and transactions

8,073,886-Non-privileged access to data independent of filesystem implementation

8,024,507-Transaction-safe FAT file system improvements

8,001,165-Storage system format for transaction safe file system

7,930,374-Configuring network settings using portable storage media

7,877,424-Quota enforcement with transacted file systems

7,844,606 – Legacy filter support in a new managed file system filter model

7,801,867-Optimizing backup and recovery utilizing change tracking

7,783,677-Tracking file system name space changes during transactions

7,769,779-Reverse name mappings in restricted name space environments

7,747,664-Storage system format for transaction safe file system

7,747,594-Converting information into different formats

7,743,023-Scalable file replication and web-based access

7,711,754 -System and method for managing data using static lists

7,685,189 -Optimizing backup and recovery utilizing change tracking

7,685,186-Optimized and robust in-place data transformation

7,665,028-Rich drag drop user interface

7,664,796-Electronic labeling for offline management of storage devices

7,653,652 -Database schema for structured query language (SQL) server

7,650,458-Flash memory driver

7,636,946 -Unwanted file modification and transactions

7,624,443 -Method and system for a self-heating device

7,614,051-Creating file systems within a file in a storage technology-abstracted manner

7,613,738-FAT directory structure for use in transaction safe file system

7,610,307-Method and system of detecting file system namespace changes and restoring consistency

7,610,296 -Prioritized files

7,542,999 -Extended file system

7,500,082-Automating the testing of software or hardware components by dynamically creating virtual storage devices on a simulated system bus in a physical computer system

7,496,565 -Method and system for maintaining name space consistency with a file system

7,447,857-Multi-client cluster-based backup and restore

7,444,317-System and method for managing file names for file system filter drivers

7,432,920-Method and apparatus for the display of still images from image files

7,426,519-Using extensions to represent multityping

7,392,263-File system represented inside a database

7,383,274 -Systems and methods for efficiently storing and accessing data storage system paths

7,318,132-Method and apparatus for dynamically unloading file system filters

7,296,258-Software management systems and methods for automotive computing devices

7,293,044 -Method and system for verifying integrity of storage

7,290,115-System and method for filtering write operations to a storage medium containing an operating system image

7,202,893-Method and apparatus for the display of still images from image files

7,181,473-Identifying files within a namespace

7,181,463-System and method for managing data using static lists

7,174,420-Transaction-safe FAT file system

7,150,018-Method and system for deterministic ordering of software modules

7,050,097-Method and apparatus for the display of still images from image files

6,988,163-Executing binary images from non-linear storage systems

6,549,918-Dynamic information format conversion

6,286,013-Method and system for providing a common name space for long and short file names in an operating system

This deal has already led to rise in the shares of RIM and we hope that this deal helps RIM to get back their share of market too, as most of the BlackBerry users are awaiting for something new from the company. The use of exFAT file system might be the breaking point that RIM was looking forward to.