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CSIRO Wins Wi-Fi Settlement From HP

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the not-some-low-life-patent-troll-at-least dept.

HP 125

suolumark writes "The CSIRO has won what could be a landmark settlement from Hewlett Packard over the use of patented wireless technology. The settlement ended HP's involvement in a four-year lawsuit brought by the CSIRO on a group of technology companies, in which the organisation was seeking royalties for wi-fi technology that is used extensively on laptops and computers worldwide. CSIRO spokesman Luw Morgan earlier said legal action was continuing against 13 companies: Intel, Dell, Toshiba, Asus, Netgear, D-Link, Belkin, SMC, Accton, 3-Com, Buffalo, Microsoft and Nintendo."

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What we need (1, Insightful)

Vombatus (777631) | more than 5 years ago | (#27439167)

What we need is for the Australian Government to adequately fund CSIRO so they do not have to raise money via lawsuits.

The clever country indeed.

Re:What we need (5, Insightful)

ross.w (87751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27439939)

Why should the Australian Government fund research that benefits US, japanese and Korean companies?

These guys are not patent trolls. they are set up to do research and solve problems.

Re:What we need (2, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440619)

Solve problems... like "How do we prevent the wireless revolution by patent-trolling the standards committees"?

Gee, that's a useful skill. They should probably get with the DRAM committees and see if they can extend their work to the innovation of preventing new memory technologies, or partner with Intel on the prevention of higher resolution lithography. You know, for the social good that would arise from bringing a screaming halt to technological progress.

Re:What we need (5, Insightful)

cloricus (691063) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440815)

So it is okay for American based patent trolls to do this completely unchecked and ignored by your population at large for completely frivolous patents but when another country that has a legitimate patent comes a long wanting what is rightfully theirs BY YOUR BROKEN SYSTEM they are the true villains. Home of the brave indeed.

(Not a troll but with a majority American audience I'll bet I'll have the +5 troll achievement in no time with this opinion.)

Re:What we need (1, Funny)

xorsyst (1279232) | more than 5 years ago | (#27442875)

There's a +5 troll achievement? Cool. PS - you all suck.

Re:What we need (1)

Raenex (947668) | more than 5 years ago | (#27444159)

So it is okay for American based patent trolls to do this

Who said it was ok? Certainly not the parent you are replying to.

Re:What we need (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440925)

... like "How do we prevent the wireless revolution by patent-trolling the standards committees"?

Hmmm. That's beside the point. If HP, Intel and all the other guys in the band expect any credibility when others step on their patents, they have to be prepared to fork out when they step on someone else's patent. The fact that the technology is widely used doesn't exempt them.

If we have to have a patent system at all, it has to apply to everybody. It is not sufficient to just say "I'm not going to pay, so there! Nyaa nyaa-ni-nyaa nyaa!".

Re:What we need (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27441121)

So you'd prefer it to be the other way? CSIRO getting screwed by big companies, like it has in the past.

I say good on them, they need the funding. I know a few CSIRO scientists and they are always getting dicked with pay and contracts because the organisation keeps getting dicked out of funds.

If it was patent trolling they'd have just submitted the patent rather than showing proof of concept and actually developing the technology.

Learn what patent-trolling is before you troll yourself.

Re:What we need (2, Interesting)

z0idberg (888892) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441177)

I thought the modus operandi of a patent troll was to go after the little fish who either didnt have the money to defend themselves so settled out of court, or who tried to defend themselves and lost so setting s precedent with which to go after the big fish with.

Looks like the CSIRO thought they had a strong case and went after the big boys straight off and the courts agreed with them. I'm sure HP threw everything they had at them, which your garden variety patent troll wouldn't survive.

Re:What we need (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441245)

So you've never heard of Rambus? What about the GIF patents? There is no new technology ever that doesn't have some obstructionist jerk trying to overmilk the obvious by getting getting broad patents on every possible course of development. If we don't stop this hopelessly broken patent system the pace of progress will grind to a halt.

Re:What we need (1)

zaphirplane (1457931) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441351)

They are going after big companies like HP, if HP settles it means it's legitimate.

Re:What we need (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#27443779)

No, if HP settles it could also mean that HP decided making them STFU and GTFO was worth whatever they paid in the settlement, and they can use that against the others they are suing.

Doesn't in any way imply legitimacy (or illegitimacy)

Re:What we need (4, Insightful)

batkiwi (137781) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441423)

Do patent trolls:
-disclose their patents ahead of time in the working group
-agree to let their patents be used in the standard as long as compensation is paid
-contact the infringing companies immediatly after the standard was formed, continuing for 10 years, getting the cold shoulder, before FINALLY suing them

Oh.. wait... you mean you couldn't even RTFA, let alone do 2 minutes of googling about the situation?

Re:What we need (0)

TheSeer2 (949925) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441555)

Since you obviously don't know what a patent troll is: Patent trolls are entities/people who control hoards of patents but don't actually do anything.

Re:What we need (1, Offtopic)

connect4 (209782) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440065)

Flamebait? This is the most insightful comment here

Re:What we need (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440429)

Utterly spot on.

Mark my words, what will actually happen is that the government funding for CSIRO will actually *decrease* in proportion to the cash value of this (and any other) settlements for this case.

Re:What we need (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440453)

They are not 'raising money via lawsuits'. The way you say that makes it sound like it was part of their business model. That is completely false.

Other companies *agreed to pay* royalties to license the technology when the standard was being ratified.

Then, the other companies basically said: "agreed to pay? agreed to pay what? what is this agreed to pay you are referring to? I don't see anyone named 'agreed to pay' around here, perhaps you are lost?"

The companies took the tech and didn't pay anything, in blatant violation of the terms of the agreement, and are now being sued as the CSIRO's last recourse.

The CSIRO has been negotiating with these companies for YEARS trying to get the royalties to which they are entitled. The companies were given ample time to come good without getting the courts involved.

Apparently though, American companies only feel as though they should pay royalties for IP from other American companies, and everyone else can get stuffed.

Well, who's stuffed now?

I dislike the patent system as much as anyone, but this is an organisation who is using it in an honest fashion, for its intended purpose - to encourage innovation and actually develop useful products with their patents. Other companies tried to take the technology and not pay anything, and are now being forced to pay up.

This is one case where the patent system truly is working as it should.

Re:What we need (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#27442495)

Apparently though, American companies only feel as though they should pay royalties for IP from other American companies, and everyone else can get stuffed.

In light of another story, would it make sense to expect them to only want IP royalties from American consumers of the IP, then? That is, if you're outside the USA, you're free to pirate RIAA music and MPAA movies?

They sure have a sense of justice, don't they?

Re:What we need (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 5 years ago | (#27443005)

I'm deeply offended, how dare you say such a thing!!! American companies will dick one another just as fast and easily as they'd dick foreign companies. We don't play favorites in the United States, we dick all with wild abandon and without the slightest hint of .

Mark Shuttleworth buys new tie - looks great! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27439185)

DIGG THIS UP!

I hate patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27439249)

Does this cover Wifi in mobile phones too? .. Potentially they could sue just about every technology hardware company out there.

Re:I hate patents (1)

Spikeles (972972) | more than 5 years ago | (#27439623)

If it involves 802.11a, 802.11g, 802.11n or 802.11y, then yes.

Re:I hate patents (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | more than 5 years ago | (#27439839)

It looks like it exclusively applies to 802.11n

Re:I hate patents (2, Informative)

renegadesx (977007) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440187)

Actually its 802.11a and 802.11g

Re:I hate patents (1)

redcane (604255) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441211)

Potentially just about every technology hardware company out there should be paying them for the technology they have developed. The hardware only exists because the CSIRO helped invent it!

These guys aren't your normal patent trolls. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27439291)

Remember, folks: the CSIRO is fundamentally a research institution, first and foremost. They develop technologies, patent them, and then license the patents out to the manufacturing companies. Income from the patent royalties goes towards further research work.

They've done some genuinely fantastic work in a wide range of areas. Polymer banknotes [wikipedia.org] are one of their products. Agricultural research. Marine sciences. They cover a very broad base, and are very much respected in Australia for the work they do.

Personally? I hope the CSIRO wins these battles. At least with this mob, I know the money will be going to further R&D, rather than flowing to the coffers of people who don't do anything productive for society (as happens with "real" patent trolls.)

Re:These guys aren't your normal patent trolls. (2, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27439405)

Remember folks that this is a government funded and sponsored organization.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CSIRO [wikipedia.org]

The research is largely paid for by the Australian tax payer, and the ownership of the fruits of their labor should also rest there, rather than beinb plowed back into building an ivory tower that suffers from out of control growth in the face of shrinking budgets,

In the US we are a little suspect of agencies like this, (although we do have some).

We tend to prefer the NASA, DARPA, TVA model of publicly funded organizations, where thousands of ideas are released to the general public and find their way quickly onto the market.

Re:These guys aren't your normal patent trolls. (1)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27439421)

I suppose that's the difference between Australian and American patent law. If patent law is like copyright law in the following regard, a government institution can not hold a copyright, so they might be exempt from holding patents as well (which is why NASA has been such a boon, any space technologies are immediately released to the public).

Re:These guys aren't your normal patent trolls. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27439627)

Well, gee, unlike America we don't have untold billions to 'waste' on research, so we went a different route. To think that American corporations would ignore patents because American law might allow you to do so in these circumstances is disgusting; your corporations expect everyone else to acknowledge their IP and now they would blatantly disregard someone else's? Hypocrisy and greed, not that I've come to expect anything else from American companies.

Re:These guys aren't your normal patent trolls. (5, Informative)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 5 years ago | (#27439845)

"If patent law is like copyright law in the following regard..."

http://www.google.com/patents?q=assignee%3A+united+states+of+america [google.com]

it's not. working at a government R&D lab, I can assure you we are encouraged to both publish and patent as much as we are able. Now, we have a nice filter in place to clamp down on patent applications that wouldn't even be worth the taxpayer dollars to maintain. But, we have a tech transfer office that actively pursues licensing patents, and will go after contractors that patent things that were invented under government contract. The gov't generally doesn't manufacture things, but right now the general notion is that if we've paid for technology once, we shouldn't have to pay to use it later if someone else patents it, and licensing fees can help recoup R&D expenditure. They also have a really nice dividend sharing structure with the inventors, which is rare in industry.

Re:These guys aren't your normal patent trolls. (1)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27442581)

Narp, I thought this too. But NASA holds many patents, and has auctioned some off in the past.

Re:These guys aren't your normal patent trolls. (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27439647)

Sure, some of that data ends up in the hands of the average person, but it seems to be increasingly funding in "black box" projects where, while the public gets a shiny new spacecraft, the specs are tied up in "national security" or other laws effectively removing a lot of the benefit.

Re:These guys aren't your normal patent trolls. (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441089)

The "specs" of a spacecraft are rather useless unless you plan on building one... what's important is the research done.

Re:These guys aren't your normal patent trolls. (3, Funny)

Repton (60818) | more than 5 years ago | (#27439761)

..which is why they should allow Australian taxpayer-owned companies like HP to use their tech for free!

Wait...

Re:These guys aren't your normal patent trolls. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440441)

in the US, much of the research funded by these agencies leaves the intellectual property in the hands of the contractor. its not released to the general public. doesn't that seem a little corrupt?

Re:These guys aren't your normal patent trolls. (1)

Pseudonym (62607) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440563)

The research is largely paid for by the Australian tax payer [...]

If by "largely", you mean 60%, that's correct. Some 40% of the CSIRO budget comes from sales (e.g. publishing), commercial spinoffs, public-private partnerships and royalties.

Re:These guys aren't your normal patent trolls. (1)

reason (39714) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441259)

A lot of that 40% actually comes from the Australian taxpayer indirectly. Some divisions get 40% of their funding from external contracts, but the contracts are with other (state and federal) government agencies.

If the Shoe fits ... (3, Insightful)

kzieli (1355557) | more than 5 years ago | (#27439457)

Yes and no. The question is how did these patents get into the 802.11 standard. And is this a legitimate patent or a blatantly obvious one?

To say well its OK for a government funded body to base their business model on licensing patents But its not OK for a private company to do so is a double standard. Basically saying the motive justifies the act.

To my mind the motive does not excuse the act. If patent trolling, especially on standards, is wrong then it is wrong on all cases.

The only mitigating factor I could think of is if the patented technology was knowingly included in the standard. And that the relevant commitee did this on the expectation that the CSIRO would not enforce their patent. In which case their would be a clear intent to commit IP theft.

Re:If the Shoe fits ... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27439579)

And that the relevant commitee did this on the expectation that the CSIRO would not enforce their patent.

Which apparently is exactly what happened. [theregister.co.uk]

Re:If the Shoe fits ... (1, Interesting)

kelnos (564113) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441175)

The thing I find interesting about that article is that it notes that the IEEE will not ratify a standard until all orgs with patents relating to the standard commit to not suing people who implement the standard.

So apparently the fault here can be shared: CSIRO hasn't been playing ball with the normal IEEE standardisation process.

Having said that, it still seems pretty risky for the named companies to implement the standard, knowing that they weren't immune from patent suits.

The Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] on the standard notes that the validity of the patent itself is a bit uncertain.

Frankly this is just a bit ridiculous. This standard has been under development since 2004, and it hasn't been ratified yet, and isn't expected to be for another year (at least?). We should have moved on to the next new thing by now.

Re:If the Shoe fits ... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27439659)

During the Wi-Fi standardisation, CSIRO's patented IP was knowingly included in the standard. CSIRO stated that they would be happy for this to happen, provided they could collect a small royalty on Wi-Fi hardware. Everyone seemed happy with this, and the standardisation occured.

Then manufacturers started producing hardware without paying CSIRO. Over the next few years, CSIRO repeatedly sent letters requesting royalties. They didn't have much luck.

In the end, after years of negotiation, they decided court action was required. This was a big step, since it required them to set aside a significant proportion of their budget to pay for legal costs.

They have a valid claim, and they've been more than reasonable.

Re:If the Shoe fits ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440471)

As is only fair: without CSIRO's invention this essential and ubiquitous tech would be impossible.

Re:These guys aren't your normal patent trolls. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27439471)

Cant agree with you more...

Re:These guys aren't your normal patent trolls. (3, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#27439793)

Remember, folks: the CSIRO is fundamentally a research institution, first and foremost. They develop technologies, patent them, and then license the patents out to the manufacturing companies. Income from the patent royalties goes towards further research work.

Unfortunately the patent they won here was for OFDM. Which was developed in the 1960s. Their patent claims were specifically limited to applications above 10GHz, but somehow or another they managed to prevail in court against manufacturers making devices in the 2-6 Ghz range. It's 100% BS.

Re:These guys aren't your normal patent trolls. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27441481)

Beware of black-and-white arguments, sonny-Jim - they're _always_ bogus

"The welfare of the people is the ultimate law." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440395)

- the original Cicero

Re:These guys aren't your normal patent trolls. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27443345)

They've done some genuinely fantastic work in a wide range of areas. Polymer banknotes are one of their products. Agricultural research. Marine sciences. They cover a very broad base, and are very much respected in Australia for the work they do.

"Done" is the operative word. These days it's a marketing organization and not nearly as respected as it used to be.

HP is an interesting case (5, Informative)

femto (459605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27439479)

They are in the position of having made a contribution to research program on which CSIRO was a collaborator, and are now being asked to pony up to use the patent. To quote from the research paper [jwdalton.com] :

Acknowledgments

The CSIRO Systems and Devices Hardware Program and the Hewlett-Packard External Research Grants Program funded Macquarie University research on the WLAN project from 1991-1996 and 1995-1996 respectively.

The patent (USPTO 5487069) was filed on November 23, 1993 and issued on January 23, 1996. HP contributed funding from 1995-1996, so I guess it can be claimed that they didn't contribute to the patent, but it's still got to leave a bad taste in the mouth. The point is that HP might be a special case and not indicative of the treatment other defendants might get. I'd be intrigued to know what Macquarie University's contribution was from 1991 to November 23, 1993 (which was before my time on the project).

(Yes, I'm one of the authors on the paper.)

Re:HP is an interesting case (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440535)

The Macquarie University involvement was led by Dave Skellern, and in 1993-1994 was based out of the Department of Research Electronics. They heavily contributed to the 802.11 standard.

This group incorporated as Radiata, and produced (one of?) the first 802.11a chipsets, the R-M11a. Radiata was acquired by Cisco in November 2000, for US$250M.

I worked in MQU DRE between 1993-94, and my recollection is that most of the funding came from CSIRO at the time. But it has been a long, long time.

Re:HP is an interesting case (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27442873)

You are correct. I worked at CSIRO at that time - joining shortly after the patent was applied for. I knew all the people involved (two are still friends of mine) and they are a very good bunch of people. The guy at CSIRO driving the litigation is a bit of a dick though, and not well thought of, and I think that raises a few eyebrows around the place.

Also, Skellern is a smart guy, but a real little operator. I remember I did a whole lot of multipath channel simulation work, which I happily shared with his group at Macquarie. They published a paper heavily based on the work without any recognition (except a vague "thanks" to CSIRO). But he did the right thing in setting up OFDM IP licenses with CSIRO and they transferred on to Cisco. I might add he also did a lot of collaboration with HP - I think one of their early routers came largely from his group, and there was some test and measurement gear too.

what, no fruit? (2, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27439491)

Intel, Dell, Toshiba, Asus, Netgear, D-Link, Belkin, SMC, Accton, 3-Com, Buffalo, Microsoft and Nintendo."

Notice one missing? What happened there? (did they actually license rather than "borrow without permission"?)

Actually I suppose I don't see Compaq anywhere in there either. Any other big names I'm overlooking?

Re:what, no fruit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27439511)

Intel, Dell, Toshiba, Asus, Netgear, D-Link, Belkin, SMC, Accton, 3-Com, Buffalo, Microsoft and Nintendo."

Notice one missing? What happened there? (did they actually license rather than "borrow without permission"?)

Actually I suppose I don't see Compaq anywhere in there either. Any other big names I'm overlooking?

HP == Compaq

Re:what, no fruit? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27439539)

Compaq = HP.

Re:what, no fruit? (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 5 years ago | (#27439705)

If you're meaning Apple, then perhaps it's indicative of only companies that produce wifi chipsets. Sure, Apple hardware has wifi technology in their computers but doesn't manufacture, per se, the wifi chips?

Re:what, no fruit? (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 5 years ago | (#27439881)

but then ... microsoft and nintendo? don't they just package other people's chipsets?

Re:what, no fruit? (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440501)

I'm not sure, just my wild speculation. But MS and Nintendo do have wifi enabled game consoles, so possibly their own silicon too.

Re:what, no fruit? (1)

klui (457783) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441147)

I think the poster was referring to Cisco/Linksys.

Re:what, no fruit? (1)

evanspw (872471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27442913)

Cisco has a license with CSIRO. They got that when they acquired Radiata to develop WLAN chipsets. Radiata was (largely) spun out of a colloboration between Macquarie Uni and CSIRO to commercialize OFDM.

Re:what, no fruit? (1)

thpr (786837) | more than 5 years ago | (#27439747)

Any other big names I'm overlooking?

I wouldn't think anything special about Apple being missing given that IBM/Lenovo (depending on how the suit would hit based on time of filing), Sony, Cisco/Linksys are missing. A host of others [wi-fi.org] would be potential targets, too.

Re:what, no fruit? (2, Informative)

femto (459605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27439975)

Cisco has probably already licensed the patent. They bought Radiata Communications [nytimes.com] , the company which was set up to commercialise the results of the CSIRO/Macquarie University WLAN project, so licensing issues were probably dealt with then.

Re:what, no fruit? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440019)

They don't want IBM to buy them out, like SCO. SCO is still waiting on its buy-out ... IBM wants to stamp on the company a little more before the stock price is low enough for a purchase. Their advisers probably recommended against any actions that could be construed as hostility towards IBM.

Re:what, no fruit? (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#27439759)

Good point, Lenovo isn't on there. Or maybe that's under IBM since this is before the spinoff?

Sony (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27439937)

Notice one missing?

Sony, the third console maker.

Re:Sony (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440003)

Sony makes consoles? Have they sold any?

Re:what, no fruit? (1)

clayman1982 (1523145) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440669)

Actually I suppose I don't see Compaq anywhere in there either.

I thought HP owned compaq now, the website redirects to HP. Or did I just miss the joke?

Re:what, no fruit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440809)

Broadcom

Re:what, no fruit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27441169)

Compaq was bought by HP several years ago, Asus just recently bought Gateway also. Asus pretty much just ripped the shit out of Gateway and made my college town full of unemployed ex gateway employees going back to school.

How the fuck is this legal? (0, Troll)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27439985)

So, let me get this straight.

In 1996, CSIRO is granted a patent it filed for earlier for some sort of wireless technology.

In 1997, IEEE 802.11 Legacy mode shows up, incorporating this technology. No mention of patents.

In 1999, IEEE 802.11b-1999 shows up, incorporating this technology. No mention of patents.

In 2000, IEEE 802.11b starts getting mass implemented.

In 2003, IEEE 802.11g shows up and starts getting implemented. No mention of patents.

In 2005, company files lawsuit across huge base of manufacturers with even huger base of existing product lines all through all kinds of consumer hardware, claiming patent infringement.

This is legal?

Re:How the fuck is this legal? (0)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440079)

Exactly. I would throw it out because they didn't protect their patent earlier. These guys were waiting for someone else to pay for the proliferation of the technology before they decided to collect.

If the courts should pay them, it should be minimal.

Re:How the fuck is this legal? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440161)

As said by others [slashdot.org] , CSIRO was in there from the beginning asking for royalties. It only went to court after a decade of negotiation failed.

Re:How the fuck is this legal? (3, Insightful)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440707)

The CSIRO has been chasing the hardware companies for years. The paper trail is a mile long. The CSIRO should be complimented for only pressing the SUE button as a last resort.

The hardware companies, on the other hand, deserve a swift kick to the nuts. But a payout will have to do.

Re:How the fuck is this legal? (1)

ADRA (37398) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440081)

Yes

Re:How the fuck is this legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440099)

It's not a company, it's a publicly funded research body. CSIRO has been licensing this out but was ignored by US corporations because until the FTA was signed you were basically untouchable.

Re:How the fuck is this legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440227)

> It's not a company, it's a publicly funded research body. CSIRO has been licensing this out but was ignored by US corporations because until the FTA was signed you were basically untouchable.

FTA is irreleant ... the CSIRO holds **AMERICAN** patents (ie USPTO) on its IP. It has been trying to collect royalties on them since 1996. American companies, apparently, think it is OK to just ignore foreign-originated IP.

Pay up, Yanks.

Re:How the fuck is this legal? (4, Informative)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440183)

No mention of patents

That you know of, the csiro has been contacting the companies producing these chipsets for quite some time, wanting royalties, only after years of refusal did they sue.

The question then becomes, is it legal to give someone infringing your patents ample time to sort out patent issues after contacting them before suing, I'd like to think yes.

Re:How the fuck is this legal? (2, Informative)

batkiwi (137781) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440197)

You don't have it right. The patents were mentioned in the process, and CSIRO has been contacting companies for YEARS. They only filed the lawsuits when they finally realized these companies were never going to pay up.

Re:How the fuck is this legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440289)

Let me fix that for you:

In 1996, CSIRO is granted a patent it filed for earlier for some sort of wireless technology.

In 1997, IEEE 802.11 Legacy mode shows up, incorporating this technology. Royalties paid to CSIRO

In 1999, IEEE 802.11b-1999 shows up, incorporating this technology. Royalties paid to CSIRO

In 2000, IEEE 802.11b starts getting mass implemented. Royalties paid to CSIRO

In 2003, IEEE 802.11g shows up and starts getting implemented. Companies stop paying royalties. CSIRO repeatedly asks them to do so.

In 2005, company files lawsuit across huge base of manufacturers with even huger base of existing product lines all through all kinds of consumer hardware, claiming patent infringement.

This is legal? Of course not. CSIRO are owed their royalty payments, which is why they are suing the manufacturers who stopped paying.

Re:How the fuck is this legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440299)

In November 23, 1993, CSIRO files a patent for 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.

In 1996, CSIRO is granted the patent.

In 1997, IEEE 802.11 Legacy mode shows up, incorporating this technology. CSIRO offers licences on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.

In 1999, IEEE 802.11b-1999 shows up, incorporating this technology. CSIRO continues to offer licenses.

In 2000, IEEE 802.11b starts getting mass implemented. CSIRO continues to offer licenses.

In 2003, IEEE 802.11g shows up and starts getting implemented. CSIRO continues to offer licenses.

In 2005, "six US tech companies begin legal action to prevent the CSIRO from continuing to receive royalties on a decade-old patent for connecting computers together without cables." http://www.smh.com.au/news/Breaking/CSIRO-hit-with-wifi-patent-suit/2005/05/19/1116361656580.html

Re:How the fuck is this legal? (3, Informative)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440329)

In 2005, company files lawsuit across huge base of manufacturers ... <ranty-rant-rant>

BZZZZZZZZZZZZZT!

No, sorry bluefoxlucid, CSIRO is not a company. And as others have already replied, yes it is legal the companies were told about the infringement and been given plenty of time to cough up.

Now I know it's part of the fun of /. to get all up in arms at the sniff of a patent troll, but in this case there isn't one. RTFA and do a wiki search for CSIRO. Then come back and post a "meh" or something.

Re:How the fuck is this legal? (4, Informative)

tick-tock-atona (1145909) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440347)

Here's the patent [uspto.gov] . And it's pretty damn comprehensive. The patent was filed for in 1993, and granted in 1996.

As in the report here (2000) [timeshighe...tion.co.uk] , CSIRO attempted to license the tech and recieve royalties but then in 2005, big tech companies didn't want to play ball [smh.com.au] anymore.

I say, good work CSIRO - screw these guys for every penny and keep on conducting your groundbreaking research.

Packet Radio (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440665)

Oh, my... I do believe I violated this patent in 1985.

Groundbreaking research my ass.

Re:Packet Radio (1)

femto (459605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440861)

You're probably safe as you probably weren't using OFDM and forward error correction on your packet radio link.

Re:Packet Radio (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441115)

Bzzt.

A lot of people don't know that long before cellular phone technology was adapted for voice it was originally a data network.

Which sort of makes Apple's "No tethering app" rule a little ironic.

I'm not claiming I invented this stuff, but I definitely used it.

Re:Packet Radio (2, Interesting)

Hecatonchires (231908) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440909)

Pony up the prior art and get the patent invalidated. I'm sure you'll get a big kiss from "Intel, Dell, Toshiba, Asus, Netgear, D-Link, Belkin, SMC, Accton, 3-Com, Buffalo, Microsoft and Nintendo"

Re:How the fuck is this legal? (1)

evanspw (872471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27442903)

Patent applies to OFDM. That is not used by .11b. It was first used by .11a (technically, .11a was approved before .11b, but equioment was made and sold long before because it was much easier to do), then .11g.

Suing the wrong people (3, Interesting)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440125)

The CSIRO is suing the wrong people. They should be suing the chip manufactures(Broadcom, Intel, Atheros, and maybe some others), not the people who bought chips and had them re-branded.

Re:Suing the wrong people (3, Informative)

kelnos (564113) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441097)

Nope, responsibility for paying royalties usually falls with the last link in the chain before the customer. It's not unheard of for the chip manufacturers to pay for licensing and then include the cost of that licensing in their chip cost to the OEM, but in my experience the OEM usually handles royalty payments.

Re:Suing the wrong people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27443165)

With patents, everyone, including the end-user, has liability. But suing individual consumers won't make you any money (unless your business has absurd government-mandated damages).

It would be fairer to say that responsibility for paying royalties falls on whoever gets sued. Which is typically the wealthiest corporation in the chain.

Re:Suing the wrong people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27442789)

The CSIRO is suing the wrong people. They should be suing the chip manufactures(Broadcom, Intel, Atheros, and maybe some others), not the people who bought chips and had them re-branded.

Well, not really. Apparently they only have a patent in the US. They were granted a patent in Japan, but it was overturned on prior art grounds when Buffalo challenged it. So they're just going after US companies, because that's the only thing they can do.

Go CSIRO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440575)

They should have paid the royalties. Too bad, I really hope they are made to pay now.

If they win... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440621)

Whats to stop the companies they are suing from never ever ever licensing another thing from them? Sure hope the settlements are enough to fund CSIRO forever.

Re:If they win... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27440667)

No company will ever refuse to license a patent when there is profit to be made by doing so.

Re:If they win... (1)

Hecatonchires (231908) | more than 5 years ago | (#27440917)

Because eventually, if they ignore the law enough times, they get a government bai... I mean the company gets rolled up and the sale profits go to the claimant

Outlaw patent trolls! (0, Redundant)

wshwe (687657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441107)

Patent trolls raise the cost of products without any benefit to consumers.

Re:Outlaw patent trolls! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27441329)

How are they a patent troll?

Re:Outlaw patent trolls! (1)

njen (859685) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441521)

As has been stated many times before the CSIRO is not a patent troll. It is an Australian government funded research division, whose profits are then put back into the division to develop more technologies and provide more research.

This is a case of big American companies who were paying royalties previously, then suddenly stopped, and effectively said "I don't want to pay them anymore".

Re:Outlaw patent trolls! (1)

KingMotley (944240) | more than 5 years ago | (#27441807)

"Patent troll is a pejorative term used for a person or company that enforces its patents against one or more alleged infringers in a manner considered unduly aggressive or opportunistic, often with no intention to manufacture or market the patented invention."

I would say CSIRO meets many of those criteria.
"enforces its patents against one or more alleged infringers" - Check
"manner unduly aggressive or opportunistic" - Check
"no intention to manufacture" - Check
"no intention to market" - Check

How is CSIRO not a patent troll? I understand, it's a government funded research division. Are you saying that because it's government funded it automatically is not a patent troll? Or because it's a research facility that it can't be a patent troll? How exactly is this different than all the other patent troll who "discover" something, then lay in wait for someone to use it and then sue them for patent infringement?

No patented technology in standards. (1)

drkwatr (609301) | more than 5 years ago | (#27443263)

I could care less if they have or haven't a valid claim. The simple fact is nothing patented should ever be included into an "open" standard. I am so sick of all the horseshit. In my opinion nothing is patentable since it is built on the work of others. Not to mention trivial, most of the stuff created today I had working examples of when I was 12. So I would say 90% of the technology you all use is simple. Patenting software? Come on what a joke. They are mostly patenting a description to a solution to the problem. How the hell is that innovative? Sorry, we were the first to describe the solution, and get a patent. You can't solve it now.
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