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cmatias
PostPosted: Feb 20, 2012 - 12:11 PM
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Hi everybody,

I want to read and write FAT files in an SD Card through an SPI interface with an XMEGA.

Does anybody know whether I have to pay any kind of royalty to the SD Card association?

Thanks

C.
 
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clawson
PostPosted: Feb 20, 2012 - 01:27 PM
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Yes if you use SD mode, no if you use MMC mode (SPI).

More to the point is that M$ have been starting to make moves against anyone using FAT. Initially they just used the protection on LFN which is avoidable by simply not using LFN but now they are actually making noises about retro-licensing FAT itself. Already they made an out of court settlement with TomTom who initially had to cease-and-desist.

Part of the key to it is whether the implementation has used knowledge from Fatgen103.doc - you may not personally have read it but the chances are the person who wrote you FAT software stack did.

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lfmorrison
PostPosted: Feb 21, 2012 - 05:44 PM
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Cliff: from what I read, in the TomTom case Microsoft specifically cited patents US5579517 and US5758352, both having to do with LFN.

Has Microsoft actually gone after anybody for using functionality unrelated to LFN?
 
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clawson
PostPosted: Feb 21, 2012 - 05:57 PM
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Quote:

Has Microsoft actually gone after anybody for using functionality unrelated to LFN?

Not as far as I know but we discussed this in a thread maybe 6..9 months ago and there are some rather worrying statements on microsoft.com about a possible future intention to seek royalties.

I'll see if my Google-fu can turn up that thread...

EDIT: yes...

http://www.avrfreaks.net/index.php?name ... highlight=

That links to:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows ... 63080.aspx

which wrote:
The download license agreement permits you to use the Microsoft EFI FAT32 File System Specification only in connection with a firmware implementation of the Extensible Firmware Initiative Specification, v. 1.0. If you plan to implement the FAT32 File System specification for other purposes, you must obtain an additional license from Microsoft. For example, you must obtain an additional license in order to create a file system for reading or reading and writing FAT32 in digital cameras recording to flash media, in computer operating systems reading and writing internal/external hard disks or flash media, or in set-top boxes reading FAT-formatted media. To obtain this additional license, see the Microsoft Intellectual Property Licensing page.

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snigelen
PostPosted: Feb 21, 2012 - 06:40 PM
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clawson wrote:
Yes if you use SD mode, no if you use MMC mode (SPI).

That question came up in another (swedish) forum. Jesper (here at avrfreaks) asked SDA, and they replied:
Jesper and SDA wrote:
Citera:
Thank you for contacting the SD Association. We appreciate your interest in SD technologies. We will attempt to answer your questions below.

Citera:
* Do we need to be members/licensee to use SD-cards in SPI mode?
Yes.
Citera:
* Do we need to be members/licensee to use SD-cards in 1-bit SD/MMC mode?
Yes.
Citera:
* Do we need to be members/licensee to use SD-cards in 4-bit SD/MMC mode?
Yes.
Citera:
* Are the licensing required regardless of quantity or sales volume?
Yes.

In general, if your company will make and sell products which host SD Cards or are interoperable with SD Cards, your company will need to join the SD Association and sign the HALA. This is true regardless of which modes your device may use.


Och detta:
Citera:
Our understanding is that membership and licensing are required even if the SD Card is embedded in the product and inaccessible to end users. We hope this helps to clear up any potential confusion.
 
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clawson
PostPosted: Feb 21, 2012 - 06:44 PM
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Blimey! So the "SPI==free" thing is an urban myth?

EDIT: this page:

https://www.sdcard.org/developers/licensing/hala/

about "HALA" says "$1,000 per year"

EDIT2: Oh and to get a licence you have to be a member:

https://www.sdcard.org/join/

So for "General membership" that's another $2,000 per year.

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condemned
PostPosted: Feb 21, 2012 - 08:03 PM
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You do not have to be a "SD Card Association" member, or get a HALA license...
https://www.sdcard.org/developers/licensing/ wrote:
*The CLA and HALA licenses are available for the convenience of licensees and no statements herein should be construed as suggesting that a party could not obtain the necessary intellectual property rights through individual licenses with the owners of the essential patents and relevant trademarks, copyrights and design patents.
I think I'll just stick my fingers in my ears and only ever sell boards for development purposes. Now... where do I find a USB VID/PID...
 
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gchapman
PostPosted: Feb 22, 2012 - 09:31 AM
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cmatias wrote:
Does anybody know whether I have to pay any kind of royalty to the SD Card association?
Likely no if one uses the Simplified Specifications though there is the statement "... may require a license ...".
References:
One Laptop Per Child, [Community-news] OLPC News (2006-09-16), event 4.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SD_card#Openness_of_the_standard; note Linux.
The simplified spec has 4-bit SD mode, 1-bit SD mode, SPI mode.
What's missing from the full spec: ultra-high speed, signal voltage level switch, internal write protection, content protection, general command, some switch function commands, memory array, some spec for speed class, some SDXC spec, hot plug (card detect, power protection), programmable card drive, 3.3V signaling, 1.8V drive and signaling, ESD, SPI timing diagrams, some bits from ASSD (Advanced Security SD).
 
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gchapman
PostPosted: Feb 22, 2012 - 10:49 AM
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FAT - IIRC, Linux has the LFN work-around for FAT32, or, use short file names in FAT32 with a translation table (poor work-around).
Though if Microsoft pulls the rug out from under embedded FAT32 then the innovative software engineers will have another go at it (another round of counter the move especially if the invoked software patent is specific).
The loss of FAT32 would hurt since some SD cards' internal controllers depend on FAT32 for speed and proper wear levelling (SD card lifetime).
One end run may be an alternate file system (FAT16?, Contiki Coffee file system?) on top of FAT32-minus-LFN as one file; translate inside an on-AVR FTP or HTTP server.
Use TCP/IP plus FTP or HTTP on USART, USB, Ethernet, 802.15.4, 802.11, etc.
FAT32 write and read would be done on a Microsoft-sanctioned system; your system (the AVR) would use the other file system via LBA.
Likely not Microsoft friendly due to user file system instead of kernel file system.
Slower due to use of TCP/IP thru a Microsoft Explorer (File or Internet).
Punt - May be easier to qualify partitioned SD cards w.r.t. FAT16 (or such).

w.r.t. TomTom action - I was not aware of the Android FAT32 lawsuit. IIRC, Google bought an IBM software patent portfolio to arm themselves.
Looks like we Americans are going to lob software patent grenades/artillery against one another.
Is Microsoft a root of evil? Wink
 
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clawson
PostPosted: Feb 22, 2012 - 11:36 AM
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Quote:

One end run may be an alternate file system (FAT16?, Contiki Coffee file system?)

I already did quite a lot of work on UDF for AVR (and other embedded). At the moment it's read-only but with time I'd like to make it work for writing too. UDF is an open standard and one of the real nice things about it is that Winodws natively supports it for both accessing and formatting USB memory sticks and SD/MMC. (any other "odd" filesystem is going to require special tools on Windows and possibly an added driver so that Windows can read the files from the card).

IMHO UDF is the way to go if M$ get "heavy" about FAT. At which point they'll probably regret having included support for the open disk filing standard in Windows!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Disk_Format

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gchapman
PostPosted: Feb 22, 2012 - 04:11 PM
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clawson wrote:
I already did quite a lot of work on UDF for AVR (and other embedded).
Thank you for your effort on this; this can be another form of legacy.
What's your sense for UDF's effect on an SD card's lifetime?
TIA
 
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clawson
PostPosted: Feb 22, 2012 - 04:29 PM
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Quote:

What's your sense for UDF's effect on an SD card's lifetime?

As the wear levelling is performed at a lower level than either FAT or UDF then it should be the same. I don't think UDF has any greater propensity to repeatedly write sectors than FAT does. In fact depending how FAT is used (and whether the implementation implements it) things like the FsInfo sector can get a real hammering (I know this from the days of working on PVR hard drives!). But like an HDD an SD should have a re-map sector pool and if a sector cannot be written it should be invisibly remapped to one of the spare sectors and if that then goes bad it too would be remapped and so on.

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lfmorrison
PostPosted: Feb 23, 2012 - 02:11 PM
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gchapman wrote:
cmatias wrote:
Does anybody know whether I have to pay any kind of royalty to the SD Card association?
Likely no if one uses the Simplified Specifications though there is the statement "... may require a license ...".
References:
One Laptop Per Child, [Community-news] OLPC News (2006-09-16), event 4.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SD_card#Openness_of_the_standard; note Linux.
The simplified spec has 4-bit SD mode, 1-bit SD mode, SPI mode.
What's missing from the full spec: ultra-high speed, signal voltage level switch, internal write protection, content protection, general command, some switch function commands, memory array, some spec for speed class, some SDXC spec, hot plug (card detect, power protection), programmable card drive, 3.3V signaling, 1.8V drive and signaling, ESD, SPI timing diagrams, some bits from ASSD (Advanced Security SD).


The simplified specification is just a document describing the system. It does not convey any permission to actually *make use* of the information in any particular product. Indeed, the opening of Simplified Host specification document specifically states:
Quote:
No license is granted by implication, estoppel or otherwise under any patent or other rights of the SD Card Association or any third party.


Similarly, the ITU makes the specification documents for h.264 video encoding available as a free download. However, in countries where software patents are held to be valid, you would still have to pay royalties to distribute any software that actually implemented the specification.

FAT16 (without LFN) has been out in the wild long enough now (since the mid 1980s), that it would be next to impossible for any valid patent to still be in effect which could impact its operation. I honestly don't know if FAT32 was ever patented as a separate entity from FAT16.

Of course, patents specifically related to LFN would apply equally to both FAT16 and FAT32 implementations. (As well as FAT12, for that matter, because LFN is supported on floppy discs too.) The good news, though, is that LFN patents were filed and granted around 1995-1996, so in jurisdictions with 20-year-from-filing patent terms, they have no more than 4 years of life left.
 
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westfw
PostPosted: Feb 23, 2012 - 09:26 PM
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I thought the theory was that you could use SD cards in MMC mode (if they are less than 2G, and if they support it) without licensing. Is SPI mode the same as MMC mode? (and if not, does the various code that's around use SD/SPI mode or MMC mode?)
 
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clawson
PostPosted: Feb 23, 2012 - 09:30 PM
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Quote:

Is SPI mode the same as MMC mode?

Yes, so all this is saying $3,000/year please though there is a suggestion you don't have to be a member to get a licence - in which case $1,000/year.

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gchapman
PostPosted: Feb 24, 2012 - 12:55 AM
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Judge rules that targeting Android for destruction is legally OK by Ed Bott.
Edit: possible dead link at osnews.com:
Judge rules that targeting Android for destruction is legally okay


Last edited by gchapman on Feb 24, 2012 - 01:38 PM; edited 1 time in total
 
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clawson
PostPosted: Feb 24, 2012 - 09:21 AM
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That link is dead

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lfmorrison
PostPosted: Feb 24, 2012 - 01:19 PM
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westfw wrote:
I thought the theory was that you could use SD cards in MMC mode (if they are less than 2G, and if they support it) without licensing. Is SPI mode the same as MMC mode? (and if not, does the various code that's around use SD/SPI mode or MMC mode?)


There is one point early in the initialization stage where, if you follow the standard SPI initialization procedure as outlined in the MMC specifications, an SD card may fail to initialize.

MMC uses CMD1 to identify card capability and capacity. In SD cards, ACMD41 is recommended to be used instead.

In the current revision of the SD card simplified spec, CMD1 has been removed; modern SD cards are not obliged to support it. SDHC cards, in particular, cannot provide complete capacity information using only the data contained in a CMD1 response. So:
1) You may not succeed initializing a standard SD card relying on CMD1.
2) You are guaranteed to fail to initialize an SDHC card relying on CMD1.

There is no such thing as ACMD41 in the MMC spec. Therefore, any developer that makes use of ACMD41 cannot possibly have obtained knowledge about the existence of ACMD41 through MMC licensing; they must have obtained knowledge of ACMD41's existence through reliance on proprietary intellectual property related specifically to SD cards.
 
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gchapman
PostPosted: Feb 24, 2012 - 01:44 PM
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Pay to play, or, switch to MMC at about 10USD/GB; then spend the money on a USB VID or a MAC address.
 
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gchapman
PostPosted: Feb 25, 2012 - 06:11 AM
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http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2010/10/microsoft-sues-motorola-citing-android-patent-infringement.ars
(from FAT on wikipedia) lists the patents in the complaint. For this thread's topic looks like just LFN.
FatFs: An Open Source File System by Erich Styger
states (on page 11) that FAT12 and FAT16 are standards without LFN; FAT32 and/or LFN may need licenses.
 
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clawson
PostPosted: Feb 25, 2012 - 08:54 AM
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Quote:

(from FAT on wikipedia) lists the patents in the complaint. For this thread's topic looks like just LFN.

Yes but read the Microsoft site - they seem to be suggesting that they may retroactively chase for more than just LFN

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lfmorrison
PostPosted: Feb 27, 2012 - 12:31 PM
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Cliff: It's interesting that FAT12/FAT16 are described in the standard ISO/IEC 9293, and the ISO/IEC's patent declaration databases don't contain any entries fron any companies claiming to hold any essential patents covering that standard.

Microsoft is a member of the ISO/IEC, and they have registered essential patent declarations for several other ISO/IEC standards, so you certainly couldn't claim that they aren't aware of that organization's patent declaration process.
 
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mojo-chan
PostPosted: Feb 28, 2012 - 05:01 PM
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Jesper and SDA wrote:
Citera:
Thank you for contacting the SD Association. We appreciate your interest in SD technologies. We will attempt to answer your questions below.

Citera:
* Do we need to be members/licensee to use SD-cards in SPI mode?
Yes.
Citera:
* Do we need to be members/licensee to use SD-cards in 1-bit SD/MMC mode?
Yes.
Citera:
* Do we need to be members/licensee to use SD-cards in 4-bit SD/MMC mode?
Yes.
Citera:
* Are the licensing required regardless of quantity or sales volume?
Yes.


This made me LOL. Just like the bogus music rights companies they claim to own everything and anything. No matter what you do, you must own them money, obviously.

BTW, if your engineers use oxygen in any capacity, even breathing, you have to pay Jean Michelle Jarre royalties. Really.
 
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clawson
PostPosted: Feb 29, 2012 - 10:22 AM
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Quote:

Just like the bogus music rights companies they claim to own everything and anything. No matter what you do, you must own them money, obviously.

If someone owns IPR and decides to sell it is there something wrong with that then? A vocal artist owns the copyright of the songs they sing and an SD card association own the copyright of the hardware interface and software protocol they designed. Or is it the case that if you cannot actually see and pick something up it has no inherent value? This explains $bn's of music, video and software theft I guess. (which is a shame for anyone who writes software for a living!).

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mojo-chan
PostPosted: Mar 01, 2012 - 10:31 AM
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clawson wrote:
If someone owns IPR and decides to sell it is there something wrong with that then? A vocal artist owns the copyright of the songs they sing and an SD card association own the copyright of the hardware interface and software protocol they designed. Or is it the case that if you cannot actually see and pick something up it has no inherent value? This explains $bn's of music, video and software theft I guess. (which is a shame for anyone who writes software for a living!).


I'm not saying intellectual property has no value. I don't know where you got that idea from because I certainly didn't write it.

My point was that trolling companies like to claim they own everything when in fact they don't. Music rights agencies and record labels are some of the worst. There was a story recently about one label claiming copyright over birdsong in the background of a YouTube video, and Belgian TV did an expose on the Belgian music rights group who were trying to collect royalties on made-up artists.

Similarly MS is trying to claim that everyone who implements FAT owes them money, but that doesn't make it true.
 
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js
PostPosted: Mar 01, 2012 - 10:26 PM
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Quote:
MS is trying to claim that everyone who implements FAT owes them money, but that doesn't make it true.
So are you ready to do battle in court if M$ (or anyone) sues you?

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mojo-chan
PostPosted: Mar 04, 2012 - 05:54 PM
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What choice do you have? Anyone can sue anyone else for any reason no matter how stupid. In this specific case I'd probably ask the EFF or another interested party for help. The EFF loves busting ridiculous claims like this.

Note that MS has only ever gone after TomTom and only on very specific points. They have never gone after anyone for merely using FAT16 or FAT32. Even LFN seems to be safe as long as you don't use their MICROS~1 algorithm for generating 8.3 names. Have a read of the TomTom case for the specifics.
 
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gchapman
PostPosted: Mar 04, 2012 - 11:10 PM
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EFF - In this case could be the Software Freedom Law Center, or, Open Invention Network.
LinuxCon: The mobile Linux patent landscape by Jake Edge (LWN).
States that the FAT patents (I assume FAT32) expire soon.
Microsoft pulls in $444 million per year from Android patents by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes (ZDNet; Sep 29, 2011).
Buys a lot of legal muscle. A number of Androids come with exFAT (a necessity) so those companies purchased an exFAT license and very likely a FAT32 license.
 
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mojo-chan
PostPosted: Mar 08, 2012 - 01:32 PM
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Linux implements a work-around for the patent. Specifically it covers a method of creating an 8.3 file name from a long file name, so on Linux you have a choice of either 8.3 names or long names, but not both. Well, you can read both, but if you make a new file it will only have one name generated for it.

If you feel this is insufficient... well, I patented a method for programmers inhaling air to acquire oxygen for conversion to lines of program code via an analogue "brain" device and you owe me royalties.
 
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