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Buffalo Tech Gets New Trial On Wi-Fi Patent

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the oh-give-me-a-home-router dept.

The Courts 78

MrLint writes "It's been a long, nearly two years of silence since CSIRO won a patent battle against Buffalo Tech, causing an injunction preventing the Austin company from selling wireless routers. On September 19, 2008, a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that CSIRO patent claims are invalid and Buffalo is getting a new trial. With any luck, we will be able to get our grubby hands on low-cost Wi-Fi routers again!"

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78 comments

Are they expensive? (3, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25291029)

I paid 29 bucks for mine.

Re:Are they expensive? (2, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25291213)

Did it come with DD-WRT pre-installed? Buffalo's come with DD-WRT pre-installed and cost is typically slightly cheaper than LinkSys, D-Link or Netgear.

The new American entitlement... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25291365)

Everyone gets a house - preferably a house bigger than your budget. If you can't afford a house, the rest of America will chip in to help you pay for it. It just wouldn't be fair to ask people to live within their means.

Re:The new American entitlement... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25291427)

-1, Troll.

You could always get your hands on them, (3, Informative)

pwnies (1034518) | more than 5 years ago | (#25291043)

You just had to order them from Europe. Kind of a pain, but they're quality routers. Hopefully at the end of this trial we wont have to circumvent the system though in order to get our "grubby hands" on some quality, dd-wrt running hardware.

Re:You could always get your hands on them, (3, Informative)

qoncept (599709) | more than 5 years ago | (#25291207)

You don't need to circumvent anything to get a Buffalo router if all you want to do is run dd-wrt. There are tons of routers supported, including the 2 I just had laying around from way before I'd ever heard of it. http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Supported_Devices [dd-wrt.com]

Re:You could always get your hands on them, (1)

Compumyst (635636) | more than 5 years ago | (#25293237)

You don't need to circumvent anything to get a Buffalo router if all you want to do is run dd-wrt. There are tons of routers supported, including the 2 I just had laying around from way before I'd ever heard of it.

Just because you decide to upgrade the firmware to DD-WRT does not mean that the hardware you run it on isn't important. Personally, I purchased a WRT54G-TM (as opposed to attempting to get a specific version of another model) because I know it has 32M ram and 8M flash, so that I could use the mega image. Ignoring ram/flash sizes, there are still other factors related to the hardware that can affect someone's choice of router. I'm not saying Buffalo is anything special, I don't know; I've never used them. But, combined with the apparently low price point, Buffalo may be more attractive or better suited for someone than another make/model of router.

Re:You could always get your hands on them, (4, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25291725)

High quality and high power. the HP versions go up to 350mw easily.

they kick the crap out of the other ones out there. Except for the new linksys 600N that's my new darling with fast processor, gobs of flash and ram and takes to DD-WRT quite nicely....

Re:You could always get your hands on them, (1)

Killall -9 Bash (622952) | more than 5 years ago | (#25293445)

I have never tried the Buffalo brand, so I may be speaking from ignorance, but my experience is that cheap and quality are mutually exclusive. I recently bought the DGL-4100 for $109, and it is the only router I have EVER owned that has not crapped out and/or required daily reboots in 6 months or less.

Re:You could always get your hands on them, (1)

MxTxL (307166) | more than 5 years ago | (#25293661)

I picked up a new Asus WL-500G because my prior linksys was crapping out daily like that. The new Asus did the same thing out of the box. I read somewhere on the net that it was because of bad power. I put the router and cable modem on an UPS and have been 100% stable (knocking on wood) ever since.

Re:You could always get your hands on them, (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25308117)

I got mine on clearance at Best Buy, 6 months or so ago.

I also got a Draft N network adapter on the cheap.

LK

I wouldn't hold your breathe. (3, Informative)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25291105)

The Federal Circuit only reversed summary judgment as to obviousness of CSIRO's patents. This means that Buffalo Tech. will have a chance to make its case on that issue alone. You see, based on the silence of the BT press release on the other issues against BT on summary judgment, I would have to conclude that the Federal Circuit upheld those.

I also have to add that the lawsuit is filed in the plaintiff-friendly (to put it softly) E.D. Texas.

Re:I wouldn't hold your breathe. (5, Interesting)

Zordak (123132) | more than 5 years ago | (#25291989)

You're right. This was hardly a big victory for Buffalo:

On appeal, we affirm the district court's summary judgment rulings in all but one respect. With respect to the issue of validity, we uphold the court's entry of summary judgment that the '069 patent was not anticipated. We also uphold the district court's entry of summary judgment that the '069 patent was not invalid because of the addition of new matter to the application or because the asserted claims lacked a sufficient written description in the original specification. With respect to the issue of obviousness, however, we conclude that the district court erred by entering summary judgment against Buffalo because we hold that there was a disputed issue of material fact as to whether the prior art references that were before the district court were combinable in a manner that would have rendered the asserted claims of the '069 patent obvious. Although we vacate the summary judgment of obviousness, we have nonetheless addressed the issue of infringement, on which the district court entered summary judgment against Buffalo, because that issue will continue to be important to the ultimate disposition of the case unless the claims are held to be invalid for obviousness. As to that issue, we uphold the district court's summary judgment of infringement.

The district court found (on summary judgment) that the patent was not anticipated, valid, not obvious, and infringed. Even for the E.D. Tex., that's a lot to hold on summary judgment, and usually indicates it's a pretty blatant case. The Fed. Cir. upheld all of those findings except obviousness. It did not hold (contrary to the summary) that the patent was invalid. It held that there was an issue of material fact as to obviousness that the district court would need to try to a fact finder. If the district court finds, on remand, that the patent is non-obvious, then Buffalo loses.

I know there's a huge anti-patent sentiment around here, but patents are my bread and butter, and I tend to believe that there are such things as valid patents. I haven't looked at this patent specifically, but if somebody has a slam dunk argument for why the specific claims at issue are obvious, I'd honestly be interested to hear it. I hate obvious patent too---probably more than you, because I have to litigate against them, fighting the presumption that they're valid with lots of money on the line. But this sounds more like a case where a lot of people are upset that they couldn't get something they liked because it infringed a possibly-valid patent. That is really just the price we pay to have patents at all. Some of the people here will disagree with the whole concept(many will accompany their disagreement with vitriol and poor grammar). But I don't think that a trade secret-only world would be any better.

So somebody tell me, what is obvious about this patent? I'd be interested to know.

Re:I wouldn't hold your breathe. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25292421)

>If the district court finds, on remand, that the patent is non-obvious, then Buffalo loses.

thas not essactly right.

new appeal to cafc would hafta pass KSR muster since theesa here wuzza TSM spectacle.

skuz the grammar, Ah ain't no grammarian.

Re:I wouldn't hold your breathe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25292639)

Mod Parent up

Re:I wouldn't hold your breathe. (3, Interesting)

femto (459605) | more than 5 years ago | (#25293279)

I just happened to be involved [jwdalton.com] in the university project that produced this patent. The patent was filed before I got involved, so I can't comment on the perceived obviousness at the time of filing (or any other aspect of the filing). From personal experience, in 1995 most people I spoke to about what I was doing didn't "get" it and questioned why anyone would bother doing such a thing. It's hard to tell how much of that was due to the technology being non-obvious, or how much was due to applications being non-obvious.

It's interesting that there is only one name in common between the list of authors on the patent [uspto.gov] and the paper [sss-mag.com] , and that person isn't the lead author on the paper. I guess that might be because the paper is about the second implementation. The first implementation, on which the patent is presumably based, was done in software in non-real time (burst mode). If judging obviousness, it would be worth comparing with the HiperLAN [wikipedia.org] project and the work that went into it.

Re:I wouldn't hold your breathe. (2, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#25294299)

I could accept a patent system IFF there was a presumption that independent re-invention proved obviousness and deliberate disclosure of one's own patents without a WARNING/NDA in advance was a crime (to prevent patent holders from trying to poison the well).

I would also say that if a competent engineer in the field couldn't replicate the invention without additional research just by reading the patent, it's void.

To me, this actually sounds like some worked their butts off to actually do something useful and then someone else saw a passing similarity to something they did once (but then left to rot somewhere) and decided to cash in.

It's noteworthy that many attorneys advise engineers to NEVER look at patents because it could drastically increase liability if they should happen to see one vaguely similar to anything they have implemented even if the dense patentese kept them from recognizing it.

I personally object to patents as they are now because I have personally had ideas that I considered too obvious for a patent or discarded outright because they weren't really all that good (or both) and then seen them patented. Why should anyone have the right to sue me for a fortune if I re-use one of my own ideas?

Re:I wouldn't hold your breathe. (2, Interesting)

HuguesT (84078) | more than 5 years ago | (#25296365)

Your ideas sound good but are probably unworkable. Independent re-invention does not prove obviousness, as it happens all the time even for very difficult subjects (e.g. in maths, physics, not just engineering). The first to invent should get the credit as in research.

Your second point, I wholeheartedly agree with however. Patents are supposed to make something "patent", i.e. totally obvious to make with the knowledge of the patent. Some patents are like that but not all.

The third point is the opposite of reality. CSIRO are the one who worked their butt off to make wireless communication more reliable, effective and efficient, but they are not a manufacturing entity, they are a government research agency. They patented their discoveries as they should have. Even if Buffalo or others certainly made contributions into the manufacturing process, the basic scientific principles of their device is based on CSIRO's invention.

Nobody complains when IBM (say) patents a new silicon manufacturing process like SOI and makes wafer makes like Applied Materials pay licences. In effect the research arm of IBM makes billions a year from patent licences. People know that IBM has legal werewithals and don't think they can get away with cheating with IBM's inventions.

Here I'm pretty sure the Dells, HPs, Netgears of this world knew they were infringing but thought "who is this CSIRO thing? an Aussie gov. body? come on, can they even patent things in the US? can they even prosecure?" and tried to cheat knowing full well that at worse they might be liable for some fees down the line and might be able to settle for cheap somewhere down the line. They probably thought it would be a nice way for their legal department to make them some money for a change.

If patents like these are invalidated this is pretty much closing the lid on a whole body of strategies for applied research to fund itself through licences and commercial agreements. CSIRO is not a submarine patent shop. They employ around 6000 people and do very fine research in all areas of science. If they made a fine invention like it sounds they have, way in advance of everybody else, they should get a fine reward. This is the heart of the patent system.

If this doesn't work then the patent system is not only ineffective, it is simply evil.
 

Re:I wouldn't hold your breathe. (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#25301085)

The first to invent should get the credit as in research.

Credit in the academic sense is fine. 20 years of monopoly is not. If two people work their butts off for 10 years to make something work and finally, both have the eureka moment within hours of each other, why should one be entitled to 20 years of monopoly profits and the other be out in the cold? Notably, it's not unusual for independent discoverers to receive co-credit in the academic world.

It really doesn't matter if the two efforts happen at the same time if the second inventor truly has no knowledge (even indirect) of the first's efforts. Note that this would certainly NOT apply if someone deliberately re-invents (reverse engineers) something they know to be patented or know to be already in use.

The third point is the opposite of reality.

I'm just pointing out that there are two sides to this story and (literally) the jury is still out.

Nobody complains when IBM (say) patents a new silicon manufacturing process like SOI and makes wafer makes like Applied Materials pay licences.

Nobody complains when IBM develops a new manufacturing technology and licenses it to others. People would complain if they invented a new technique, sat on it for 10 years, and then popped up with their hand out when someone else independently perfected a similar process.

If patents like these are invalidated this is pretty much closing the lid on a whole body of strategies for applied research to fund itself through licences and commercial agreements. CSIRO is not a submarine patent shop.

No, it just means that they'll have to make their money on inventions that truly would not exist without them, and they'll have to make an effort to see to it that their inventions and their usefulness are known so the wheel isn't re-invented. I don't accuse CSIRO of being a patent troll. I just believe that they may be wrong this time.

Patents are to exist solely to advance progress in the sciences and the useful arts (in the U.S. that's explicit in the Constitution). They are acceptable to the extent that they do that. If they discourage innovation by creating minefields or cause huge effort to be put into simple re-invention rather than useful innovation, they fail in their purpose.

Poor handling of patents is so rampant that it is creating a presumption (amongst non-lawyers) of invalidity. Much of the backlash against patents here and elsewhere is a natural result.

My understanding of the patent at issue is vague, but as I understand it, it relates to OFDM (Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing). The basic idea has been around since at least the '80s in one form or another. The real story will be in the specific refinements to the idea in use.

Re:I wouldn't hold your breathe. (1)

Zordak (123132) | more than 5 years ago | (#25299009)

I could accept a patent system IFF there was a presumption that independent re-invention proved obviousness

It's not a presumption, but that is one of the factors of obviousness a court can consider.

deliberate disclosure of one's own patents without a WARNING/NDA in advance was a crime (to prevent patent holders from trying to poison the well)

Most countries have an "absolute novelty" requirement. If you disclose your patent publicly before you file, you can't get a patent. The U.S. has a one-year "grace period," which I think is pretty reasonable. And most patents get published 18 months after their earliest filing date.

I would also say that if a competent engineer in the field couldn't replicate the invention without additional research just by reading the patent, it's void.

And you would be right (well, almost). See 35 U.S.C. s. 112, par. 1. Technically, the patent is unenforceable, not void.

To me, this actually sounds like some worked their butts off to actually do something useful and then someone else saw a passing similarity to something they did once (but then left to rot somewhere) and decided to cash in.

I haven't looked at this case in detail, but my guess is that it's more than a "passing resemblance." The court found infringement on summary judgment, and the Fed. Cir. upheld it. That has to be a pretty compelling case for infringement. If somebody infringes your valid and enforceable patent, you're entitled to legal relief, even if the other guy worked really hard.

It's noteworthy that many attorneys advise engineers to NEVER look at patents because it could drastically increase liability if they should happen to see one vaguely similar to anything they have implemented even if the dense patentese kept them from recognizing it.

Well, I am not "many attorneys," I'm just "one attorney." But I encourage my clients to look at as many patents as possible. Then they have an idea at the outset whether they are walking into a minefield or not (it also helps to have a reasonable idea of what you can claim so you are not wasting your first office action on straightforward 102(b) rejections). If they come across something that looks too close for comfort, they get me involved. They can usually read the specification at least as well as I can. I dissect the "dense patentese" (the claims) to tell them if they are infringing. But all of that is orthogonal to the question of infringement. It just has to do with whether they wilfully infringed. And after Seagate, it's pretty hard to make out willful infringement.

There are problems with the current patent field (including the fact that obvious patents are still issuing), but I think it is not quite as bad as you think. The real problem is that there are a few bad apples who screw it up for everybody else (which is usually the case).

Re:I wouldn't hold your breathe. (2, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#25301709)

It's not a presumption, but that is one of the factors of obviousness a court can consider.

Exactly. I believe it should be a presumption. That alone could save millions in litigation costs.

Most countries have an "absolute novelty" requirement. If you disclose your patent publicly before you file, you can't get a patent. The U.S. has a one-year "grace period," which I think is pretty reasonable. And most patents get published 18 months after their earliest filing date.

I'm talking about after the fact. If you know I'm working on the same thing you are, it's not fair if you are allowed to mail me a copy of your notebook on your way to the patent office in order to destroy my independent inventor status.

I haven't looked at this case in detail, but my guess is that it's more than a "passing resemblance." The court found infringement on summary judgment, and the Fed. Cir. upheld it. That has to be a pretty compelling case for infringement. If somebody infringes your valid and enforceable patent, you're entitled to legal relief, even if the other guy worked really hard.

I would say that it strongly depends on the other guy's knowledge of my work. Interestingly, my argument is the same as the one commonly used to support patents in general: people should not be deprived of the fruits of their labor.

Things look a LOT worse when you're a developer and you realize that your hard work may be snatched from you (and worse, you may be ordered to hand a small fortune ober to the person who snatches it) based on a decision made by someone who may or may not be able to turn on their PC unassisted.

I realize the example I am about to give may seem quite odd to you, but it is (as close as I can get it) how many developers and engineers feel about patents and their effects on our field.

Consider how you might feel if your professional actions might do one of succeed, fail, or cost you (or your employer) $10,000,000 because an engineering committee decided that the confzigulator efficiency coefficient was too low for their taste. You ask what's a confzigulator and just how efficient it needs to be and they answer: "well, that depends...." and suggest you get an engineering degree or consult an engineer prior to submitting any legal documents or giving an oral or written opinion. Of course, that engineer's opinion will be helpful but non-binding. You might still be liable.

Put another way, imagine if at any time, someone could hire an engineer to look at your legal arguments in what you think is a routine civil trial and claim up to 100% of all fees you collect for handling the matter. You have the right to hire your own engineer to counter the claim, but he will cost you 200% of the fees you hope to retain.

Who invented that crazy system you have to live in? The IEEE, of course.

IMHO, one of the problems with law as a whole as it is practiced today is that there is literally no course of action or policy one can follow that can even approach absolute assurance that there won't be legal trouble. In the area of patents, nobody at all can tell me if I will or will not become subject to expensive patent litigation for any thought I may attempt to reduce to practice. Imagine how lawyers (or anyone else in the general public) might feel if they asked "will that bridge collapse if I walk across it?" and the engineers answered, "gee, we guess not, but we won't be sure until you cross it".

Re:I wouldn't hold your breathe. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25295275)

The CSIRO is Australia's 'Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation' - they pretty much do pure research, mostly government funded. There's branches of it that do applied research with industry alliances. I'm pretty sure the documented research of these guys provided the slam dunk.

Time Capsule like NAS devices (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25291159)

One product Buffalo used to sell before this injunction were hard drives with a wireless interface on them, similar to Apple's Time Capsules. This was before Apple's product hit the market. I wondered why this company was barred from selling these while Apple was free to do so.

I hope Buffalo wins this round.

Re:Time Capsule like NAS devices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25291303)

I wondered why this company was barred from selling these while Apple was free to do so.

Possibly apple just paid for a patent licence, or the holder chose not to enforce the patents against apple since apple were a harder target (patent enforcement is discretionary, you don't typically lose them for selective enforcement, unlike trademarks. They are a tool to distort competition and undermine the free market by definition, so this is not surprising).

Why these routers? (1)

kramer2718 (598033) | more than 5 years ago | (#25291185)

What makes them so great?

I run a cheap Belkin router. Nothing special but not that expensive.

Re:Why these routers? (4, Informative)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 5 years ago | (#25291331)

Well, for whatever it's worth, I've installed a LOT of wireless routers for people over the years - and I learned to generally AVOID Belkin.

If you've got one that's working well for you, great. But on the whole, they were known for having sub-standard firmware in their devices. I remember, for example, when 802.11g was the "latest and greatest thing", Belkin had a "g" capable router that had a major bug in the firmware, preventing any "g" devices from connecting to it if it was configured to also allow backwards compatibility with "b" devices.

They did release a firmware update to correct that, but you still had a relatively weak/limited set of configuration options in the product.

I also recall finding Belkin wi-fi routers to have worse-than-average range.

People seemed to generally like Buffalo because they were priced a little bit lower than the competition, especially on things like wireless access points (which seem to generally be a big ripoff to this day, since they cost 2x to 3x more than a full-blown router, which can be programmed to function as an access point anyway!). That and they gave good performance for the money, and had better than average web-based interfaces.

Re:Why these routers? (3, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#25291507)

Your history of Belkin's sins omits the most amusing one [belkin.com] : At one point, they baked firmware into their routers that would, from time to time, jack an http request from a machine on the lan, and feed them that image instead. Major WTF. Slashdot [slashdot.org] had the story back in the day.

Re:Why these routers? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25291753)

Belkin, Netgear, Linksys, Buffalo, & D-Link are your major home/small office brands.

They all have stinkers, they all have decent models.

In general however, Netgear tends to come in at the bottom of the price AND quality range, with a few in the mid-range of quality, Belkin is sort of like this as well, but maybe a little better.

D-Link & Linksys tend to have more models that are average or slightly above average, both in price & quality. D-Link had some firmware issues a while back, and Linksys you need to check the product VERSION in addition to model numbers.

I've heard good & bad about all the brands, basically do your research, they all have ups & downs.
If you hear anybody ranting about how great or terrible one brand is in general, they probably have some bias.

Re:Why these routers? (3, Informative)

kimvette (919543) | more than 5 years ago | (#25294711)

I like Buffalo because:

  • they work
  • they run dd-wrt
  • they sponsor the dd-wrt project
  • they don't take steps to prevent installation of dd-wrt, unlike other companies (Read: Linksys/Cisco)

Re:Why these routers? (1)

geoffaus (623283) | more than 5 years ago | (#25294907)

I have a Belkin - and after many revisions of the firmware its still got a lot of bugs. They often fix something and break something else. Belkin should not be singled out for this though, I have also seen huge amounts of problems with firmware from Netgear and others. So far the only really solid device I have seen has been a Dynalink - which is supposedly a fairly cheap brand. I havent used Billion for over 5 years but it might be ok. I remember when I bought one of their devices when adsl was new in Australia because it was the only one that had a few features I wanted in the one device. It lasted about 2-3yrs which was fine. In that time Billion went from being a completely unknown brand to a fairly well recognised one partly due to the poor performance and firmware of brands like Belkin and Netgear.

Re:Why these routers? (5, Informative)

_PimpDaddy7_ (415866) | more than 5 years ago | (#25291341)

- They are quality routers
- You can flash them with some excellent software
- Sync them up so you have longer wi-fi distance running through you house, apt, etc.
- Their range tends to be larger than other routers.

Belkins, netgear, Linksys always seem to have died on me, but my Buffalos are still roaming -bad pun intended :)

Re:Why these routers? (3, Interesting)

frostband (970712) | more than 5 years ago | (#25292015)

From my experience, I have set up a network with about 10 Belkin routers, they didn't have great range and the WDS on them was sometimes "shakey" (probably due to range/antenna issues perhaps). I was also having to restart some of these too often. I tried to put DD-WRT on some of them, and after bricking a few, it was time to move to something else.

I then tried to switch over half of the network to Linksys ones, but they didn't do the WDS for some reason at all. I returned all of those.

Now comes the Buffalo routers, I flashed all of them with DD-WRT and now I have a very stable network set up with about 12 (and growing!) WDS-connected routers. Most are Buffalos with DD-WRT and hopefully one day they all will be since you can do SNMP (sp?) monitoring on them.

Bottomline: All the points the parent mentioned plus they have been very stable for me compared with others and they have had better range (whoops, that's one of his points).

One of these days I'll set up a blog post or something detailing my network. This network is at a lodging facility on a lake where all the buildings are semi-sparsely located and it's actually a major selling point to a lot of guests looking for a place to vacation.

Re:Why these routers? (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 5 years ago | (#25292347)

Not to mention that, not long before they were hit with the trial, the company (Buffalo) had started openly supporting the dd-wrt project with money and hardware, and there were even rumors that dd-wrt would become the official firmware on Buffalo routers.

Re:Why these routers? (1)

CaptSaltyJack (1275472) | more than 5 years ago | (#25294011)

QFT! Buffalo routers' range is quite excellent, beats anything else I've used. You can easily flash the router with 3rd party firmware such as Tomato (excellent option, I like it better than DD-WRT).

I love my Buffalo router, and expect it to last me quite some time..until I have a need for 802.11n, anyway.

Re:Why these routers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25291351)

My Belkin got to the point where I had to reset it every 15 minutes or so in order to maintain connection. Then I got a Linksys. It was good, until I got my first 802.11g card - which the Linksys was a b-only router. With a whole range of 3 feet for that g adapter...

I then went out and bought a Buffalo router (a couple years ago), installed dd-wrt, and have never looked back. It runs everything (dyndns, VPN, wireless access out in my shop 125' away with that same g card) just fine.

This is good news. I like my Buffalo router.

Re:Why these routers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25292057)

Besides the routers, they made a neato wireless media consumer that had the potential to evolve into something badass but was killed by the lawsuit. It took them a long time to come out with a wired only version.

Re:Why these routers? (2, Interesting)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#25295875)

I only have 1 Buffalo router, a WHR-G54S, and it is mounted to a pole, outside [flickr.com] in the sun, rain, snow and ice (it is in Colorado, so that isn't a mutually exclusive list). It is fed a little bit too much voltage over 100' of sprinkler cable, in a telcom case. At this point it has been there for over a year.

Current uptime: 123 days

The only issues I ever have with the router is antenna misalignment from my other 19 dBi antennas being accidentally moved.

WTF with reading comprehension (5, Informative)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25291527)

"On September 19, 2008, a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that CSIRO patent claims are invalid and Buffalo is getting a new trial."

The Circuit court did no such thing - it ruled that the judge had erred in issuing a summary judgment, and it needed to go back to trial. NOWHERE in the link does it say that the Appellate Court ruled on the validity of the patent.

Re:WTF with reading comprehension (4, Funny)

initdeep (1073290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25291589)

this is /.

these facts are not the ones you are looking for.....

*waves hand*

Buffalo AirStation (2, Interesting)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 5 years ago | (#25291625)

I own a Buffalo AirStation wireless ethernet converter. Best wireless device since the WiFi router.

Re:Buffalo AirStation (1)

yyr (1289270) | more than 5 years ago | (#25303737)

I own a Buffalo AirStation wireless ethernet converter. Best wireless device since the WiFi router.

I second this. I was really disappointed when I found that I couldn't recommend it to my friends, because it was no longer for sale. You get a wireless bridge with a four-port switch in one unit...for around 50-60 bucks. What's not to like? If I wanted Linksys, I'd have to buy two separate units, and I'd be paying at least double the price.

Before you get too excited... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25291639)

You may want to check out the case pending in the Western District of Wisconsin where Fujitsu, LG and Philips have sued Netgear [justia.com] under the following 3 patents: 4975952 [google.com] (claims 1, 4 and 6), 6018642 [google.com] (claims 2, 6, and 8), and 6469993 [google.com] (claims 1, 2, 3, 6, 21, 25, and 26).

Plaintiffs are using the stupid theory that the 802.11 standard infringes the patents therefore Netgear's products also infringe. The plaintiffs have accused more than 100 Netgear products.

Netgear is the sole defendant in the case. Some details from Netgear's SEC filing [secinfo.com] :

In December 2007, a lawsuit was filed against the Company by Fujitsu Limited, LG Electronics, Inc. and U.S. Philips Corporation in the U.S. District Court, Central District of Wisconsin. The plaintiffs allege that the Company infringes U.S. Patent Nos. 6,018,642, 6,469,993 and 4,975,952. The plaintiffs accuse the Companyâ(TM)s wireless networking products compliant with the IEEE 802.11 standards of infringement. The Company filed its answer in the first quarter of 2008. This action is in the discovery phase. The District Court has scheduled an August 15, 2008 claim construction hearing and an April 27, 2009 jury trial.

If you want to fight patent garbage, buy Netgear products.

Re:Before you get too excited... (1, Interesting)

reebmmm (939463) | more than 5 years ago | (#25292829)

All I have to say is "wow." That is both a crazy theory (so much for proving product to claim) and some totally irrelevant art. That 6469993 patent is really ugly. It looks like a literal translation of the original Korean application.

I wish I had moderation points to get you out of Anonymous Coward hell.

Go Netgear.

Buffalo = good quality at a great price (1)

VorlonFog (948943) | more than 5 years ago | (#25291657)

Indeed, the one Buffalo router I purchased before they got shut down has outperformed Linksys, Motorola, and anything else. It's never failed to operate perfectly and cost a lot less than other highly-publicized and eventually dumbed-down, cut down equipment. You make a good product and sell it at a good price, so people buy it. Then some court tells you "no". WTF? If they were illegally dumping them into the US market, charge them with that offense. But since when can someone not legally market a device based on the same principles as others allowed to continue?

Almost need a poll to explain it (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25291807)

This is another me-too-I-love-my-Buffalos-over-all-other-brands post.

I think a lot of us, me most definitely, want to share the goodness that is Buffalo for those unfamiliar.

It would be nice to have non-front-page polls for this sort of thing - so others could see how many of us speak from experience and highly recommend Buffalo products.

Nothing wrong with slagging a product that sucks or proselytizing for one that cures common woes. I value /. opinions more than I can say.

Re:Almost need a poll to explain it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25292181)

Good idea.

I love my Buffalo too. I put DD-WRT on it a few years ago and basically forgot about it. Isn't that how a network device should behave?

VLAN, VPN (personal), QoS for VoIP and IPSec passthru to my work VPN. I'm running 7 servers inside my network and this little $20 (yes, that's accurate) router handles it perfectly. My last speedtest showed 33Mbps down and 3.95Mbps up, so it does all this with very little impact on overall network performance.

My only regret is that I didn't buy 2 more at that price!

Re:Almost need a poll to explain it (1)

JayAitch (1277640) | more than 5 years ago | (#25292503)

highly recommend Buffalo products.

Not a router, but I purchased a Buffalo Wireless USB dongle. I had a good many issues getting the driver to work on XP, and their website was impossible to find any driver updates. I could not get it to work on Linux at all. So one experience has left a bad taste in my mouth for the company.

Re:Almost need a poll to explain it (2, Interesting)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25294135)

Not sure of your time frame, but just in case you still have it, maybe their website is better now:

http://www.buffalotech.com/support/downloads/ [buffalotech.com]

If it's a discontinued model:

http://site2.buffalotech.com/support/downloads2.php [buffalotech.com]

I assume that you're referring to XP SP2 - my buddies and I had a lot of various USB problems prior to that. Sorry if that's obvious beyond all recognition, just covering bases.

Using mine with Tomato (2, Insightful)

Ma8thew (861741) | more than 5 years ago | (#25292155)

Got a G54 preinstalled with DD-WRT from Buffalo last week. Immediately installed Tomato on it, and it's performed brilliantly. Whereas before I would have to reboot my router once every other day, this one has an up time of eight days so far. I love the QoS features of Tomato. Keeps the web speedy during torrent downloads.

Got mine just before... (1)

feld (980784) | more than 5 years ago | (#25292195)

...they were taken off the shelf. This WHR-G125 is *awesome*. Great range and just seems to be quite reliable hardware. Wasn't too bad on the price, either. I just wish OpenWRT had full support for it's processor, but I can deal with Tomato/DDWRT :)

Well... (2, Insightful)

Zouden (232738) | more than 5 years ago | (#25292389)

With any luck, we will be able to get our grubby hands on low-cost Wi-Fi routers again!"

They're only low-cost because they aren't paying the inventors for their work.

Re:Well... (4, Interesting)

VorlonFog (948943) | more than 5 years ago | (#25294497)

I've been reading this court document [uscourts.gov] describing the recent decision this evening. IANAL, but it seems Buffalo has presented entirely reasonable and valid evidence for prior art. Additionally, CSIRO's '069 patent as originally filed specified the 10 GHz frequency range while 802.11 A/B/G/N transmissions occur in the 2.5 and 5 GHz ranges. It seems CSIRO in 1995 amended/revised their patent to remove the very specific 10 GHz reference and instead cited the more general term 'radio frequencies'. They also added new claims specifically cited in the Buffalo case. I've only read the first 25 of 40 pages, but IMHO Buffalo has presented a strong case to be reviewed more carefully than any summary judgment ever oculd. In other words, it's not so much "they aren't paying the inventors for their work" or stealing Intellectual Property. It's more like, "Buffalo presented a case the court summarily ruled against, and CSIRO is trying to enforce a possibly invalid patent." Read the document, and make your own decision. Then come back and post some more.

Re:Well... (1)

wastedlife (1319259) | more than 5 years ago | (#25295425)

In addition, CSIRO sued buffalo in several other countries over the respective patents, and lost all of these cases(including CSIRO's home country of Australia). This is the reason you can still import Buffalo routers from Japan and Europe.

My biggest beef is that these suits were leveraged at Buffalo, instead of the chipset manufacturers (Broadcom, Ralink, Texas Instruments, etc). If anyone truly is voilating the patents, it would be the chip providers, not the companies using the chips.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25297751)

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/5487069.html

The present invention discloses a wireless LAN, a peer-to-peer wireless LAN, a wireless transceiver and a method of transmitting data, all of which are capable of operating at frequencies in excess of 10 GHz and in multipath transmission environments. This is achieved by a combination of techniques which enable adequate performance in the presence of multipath transmission paths where the reciprocal of the information bit rate of the transmission is short relative to the time delay differences between significant ones of the multipath transmission paths. In the LANs the mobile transceivers are each connected to, and powered by, a corresponding portable electronic device with computational ability.

looks like they still use the very specific 10ghz to me...

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25301371)

I just finished reading that court document. [uscourts.gov] This case ranks up there among the stupidest patent claims of all time.

CSIRO claims the use of OFDM indoors. Not that they invented OFDM transmission, because they didn't, but they were the first to come up with the brilliant idea of using it inside your house instead of outdoors. In other words, I'm totally allowed sit outside and use wireless on my laptop, but if I go inside the house then I'm infringing the patent. I swear I'm not making this shit up.

Now you're probably thinking that taking your laptop into your house is totally obvious. And now three federal judges agree.

proof that /. is blatently anti-patent (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25292539)

"With any luck, we will be able to get our grubby hands on low-cost Wi-Fi routers again!"

a completely valid patent (it's for a hardware implementation, and was non-obvious at the time) and /. hopes it's overturned. I'm happy to agree that software patents have no place in this world, and the patent system needs an overhaul, but this is ridiculous. you're a bunch of hypocrites, getting all worked up when china ignores US IP when to make cheap products, but then you turn around and do the exact same thing to the australians. lame

CSIRO didn't start the fight, but will finish it. (5, Insightful)

ufoolme (1111815) | more than 5 years ago | (#25292777)

I'm all for breaking IP if its for personal use, or to increase the scope of the research.
But in this case its a massive company being greedy! Not paying its due to a non profit organisation devoted to research. Who developed wi-fi when no one else was really interested in it.
That to me is analogous to the open source movement, especially so when you consider that Buffalo sued CSIRO first.

Re:CSIRO didn't start the fight, but will finish i (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25293033)

CSIRO is an Aussie Government research institute. They come up with a lot of awesome technologies used around the world and the money is channeled back into R&D. Australia has so few research labs CSIRO is one of the few that is still around. I hope they win because the work they do is outstanding and they're one of the last bastions of creative development in Australia.

Re:CSIRO didn't start the fight, but will finish i (1)

Drathos (1092) | more than 5 years ago | (#25294891)

CSIRO is also the reason that 802.11n is in perma-draft status.

Re:CSIRO didn't start the fight, but will finish i (1)

ufoolme (1111815) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321581)

really? I thought I read somewhere that they've green lighted 802.1n

Re:CSIRO didn't start the fight, but will finish i (1)

David at Eeyore (20627) | more than 5 years ago | (#25295629)

It would be good to see Buffalo contest their patent infringement in an Australian court...This will cost CSIRO hard-one funding to pursue their claim in a Texas court.

Re:CSIRO didn't start the fight, but will finish i (1)

wastedlife (1319259) | more than 5 years ago | (#25302789)

AFAIK, CSIRO sued Buffalo in each country where it holds this patent, and Buffalo won in all except the US. Since this story is about a dispute over a US patent, it has to go through the US legal system. Plus, the district where this was brought, is the district Buffalo's US division operates in. This district is notorious for siding with the patent-holder, even when the patent is bunk.

I am not a lawyer, but this particular patent does seem pretty legit, however they should be going after the chipset manufacturers that violate the patent directly, rather than a company manufacturing products with said chipsets. This is akin to Dell or HP being sued for a patent that Intel or AMD violated, just because they sell products that contain the offending chips.

Re:CSIRO didn't start the fight, but will finish i (1)

ufoolme (1111815) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321691)

I thought Buffalo Technology did develop and sell the affected 802.11a chipset.
Your right in that CSIRO launched injunctions international, but was only successful in the US.

On a side note: The research done by the CSIRO was done at Macquarie University, which currently has active 802.11a buffalo chip wifi (comp.sci/stat/econ buildings).

Re:CSIRO didn't start the fight, but will finish i (1)

wastedlife (1319259) | more than 5 years ago | (#25327437)

I was under the impression that the lawsuit was over any wireless product, not just 802.11A products. However, if only 802.11A chipsets were affected, how could the injunction ban them from selling ALL wireless devices in the US?

Plus, if Buffalo did develop its own 802.11a chipset, I don't believe it was ever imported to the US (ever looked at a Buffalo Japan catalog? there are tons of products not brought to Europe or US). I've worked with quite a few Buffalo products, and the only 802.11a products I recall were the WHR-HP-AG108 and its associated adapters, which most definitely use an Atheros chipset. Also some of their draft N products use the A band, though I believe those were Marvell chipsets (perhaps I am just thinking of the CPU here and not the wireless chip). Unless Buffalo had some older 802.11A product from the early days. Perhaps from before they bought Techworks (the RAM company) and turned it into their US office.

I hope I don't come off as being hostile, I am genuinely curious.

patenttroll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25293057)

who the fuck modded this patenttroll? are you so thick you think that anyone with a patent is obviously a troll? freaking morons from digg should GTFO

Buffalo routers sucked for me (1)

skywiseguy (1347553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25293185)

I never understood the fascination with the Buffalo routers. When I lived in Austin, I just wrote it off as people trying to push the local company on everyone. My experience with their routers is that they were cheap knock-offs of Netgear's low-end wireless routers. And like a lot of the low-end Netgear routers, they had limited range, and would drop connections about every 15 minutes. Have they improved over the years? I would hope so, but my personal experience is to never recommend anyone to buy Buffalo.

Re:Buffalo routers sucked for me (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 5 years ago | (#25294071)

I was going to buy their dual band n router before the injunction hit because it was one of only 2 dual band Ns available at the time, and the specs were impressive.

Re:Buffalo routers sucked for me (1)

PhoenixFlare (319467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25298527)

I've had one of the Buffalo routers for around 2 years now (the WHR-G54S), and have never had any significant problems with it - works fine for daily use hooked up to 2 PCs, a laptop, a Wii, and a DS.

The Linksys router I had before that turned into an unreliable piece of junk about 6 months after purchase - all the problems you apparently had with the Buffalo.

down with patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25294013)

Was there ever such an "anti-team-player" thing as patents? They should be banned or at least vastly shortened, or rules put into place which limit revenues from them to a simple "1% of net profits", no permission required, and private use is allowed.
They are probably holding up vital progress in many areas, as people are scared to invent stuff because they may get sued.
The ability of people to not disclose patents till they are being widely used, I think, is close to criminal.
We need vast reform.
Why are our polititians allowing such control of such important things by so few?

why not linksys and netgear? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25295025)

what i want to know is

why buffalo is the only who was sued.

why not netgear , linksys, or dlink

did they lic. the tech ?

or was this a test trial as i was lead to belive.
    allowing csiro to test the waters before leaping in against the bigger companies.

either way did buffalo alone infringe the patent or are the other manufactures also infringing as well.

Re:why not linksys and netgear? (1)

totally bogus dude (1040246) | more than 5 years ago | (#25297399)

Don't really know, just did a bit of basic Googling and found the following references.

Engadget's report [engadget.com] of the 2006 ruling says:

Considering their recent victory, CSIRO's pending cases against Intel, Dell, Microsoft, HP, and Netgear definitely have roots now, and if judges continue to rule in the Aussies' favor, the big boys could be shelling out "hundreds of millions of dollars" in back pay to cover their wrongs.

This suggests that the CSIRO already has cases pending against various manufacturers, and the Buffalo ruling added some legitimacy.

But, a CSIRO press release [csiro.au] regarding the 2006 ruling says:

The court has said that patent cases brought against CSIRO by Microsoft, Intel, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Netgear should be transferred to the court which is already familiar with the CSIRO patent infringement case in the Eastern District of Texas.

So apparently the CSIRO may have been on the receiving end of legal action from those companies, not the initiator of it:

[CSIRO Chief Executive] Dr Garrett said that the California cases started in May 2005 because Microsoft, Intel, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Netgear sued CSIRO, asking the court to declare that their products did not infringe CSIRO's US WLAN patent and that CSIRO's patent was invalid.

I'm not sure whether CSIROs action against Buffalo was taken before or after the MSFT/Intel/Dell/HP/Netgear attempt. But I guess they're hoping the Buffalo case will give their claims some strong legal legitimacy which they can then use in the larger case.

Re: Buffalo Routers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25296063)

I love Buffalo routers. The most stable home routers I've ever had.

Why Buffalo? (1)

Collin (41088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25297431)

I've wondered this since Buffalo routers disappeared from store shelves due to the lawsuit. Are Buffalo routers somehow more infringing on this patent (valid or not) than the million other brands of wifi gear on the store shelves? Since they are all based on the same standards, it would seem like they should all be infringing as well and should be sued also (or at least supporting Buffalo in the fight).

Have the other companies signed their own licenses or is CSIRO just targeting Buffalo to set a precedent? If the latter, why not go for an even smaller wifi gear maker?

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