When talking about file formats (= data formats intended for files), it is easy to confuse the data format and the algorithm used to produce or decode this format. This is mostly due to the fact that for many data formats, there is only one (known) algorithm to produce this data format in a way that makes sense. For this reason, very often the algorithm and the data format are - informally - known under one and the same name. A very good example is MP3, which is both, a certain class of algorithms for encoding/decoding audio data and a file format for storing, besides other information, the data encoded using an MP3-encoding algorithm.
Certainly, it is not impossible to obtain a patent for an algorithm. However, my question concerns the file (data) formats.
Is it possible to obtain a patent on a file format, or a data format in general?