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Wi-Fi Patent Victory Earns CSIRO $200 Million

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the pay-up dept.

Patents 267

bennyboy64 writes "iTnews reports the patent battle between Australia's CSIRO and 14 of the world's largest technology companies has gained the research organization $200 million from out of court settlements. CSIRO executive director of commercial, Nigel Poole, said the CSIRO were wanting to license their technology further, stating that he 'urged' companies using it to come forward and seek a license. 'We believe that there are many more companies that are using CSIRO's technology and it's our desire to license the technology further,' Poole said.'We would urge companies that are currently selling devices that have 802.11 a,g or n to contact CSIRO and to seek a license because we believe they are using our technology.'"

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Are you fucking serious. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29753527)

Gay.
oh BSD is dead and Beowol.. whatever...

Re:Are you fucking serious. (1, Interesting)

some_guy_88 (1306769) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753565)

Don't forget that CSIRO are a research organisation like PARC to pick an example in the USA.

Nobody likes a patent troll but I'd rather see CSIRO win a case like this than say Microsoft or IBM.

Re:Are you fucking serious. (5, Insightful)

Bilestoad (60385) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753593)

Idiocy. CSIRO is nothing like a patent troll. CSIRO developed the technology...

Re:Are you fucking serious. (5, Insightful)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753623)

Yup. Isn't this *EXACTLY* why patents *REALLY* should exist? Hi - we've developed and tested a new technology, here it is, and here is how to use it. Please pay us money for the privilige.

Good on them, and hopefully we'll see some more great work from them in the future.

can you explain? (4, Interesting)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753957)

I'm not so sure. It's not my area, but this patent sounds like it might be an engineering solution, a simple application of known techniques, instead of an invention. The fact that a standards body decided to use this technology (either not knowing about the patent or deliberately ignoring it) also suggests that this is not actually a new technology.

Can you explain what you think is novel and unobvious about this technology?

Re:can you explain? (2, Insightful)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754225)

To be honest, nothing really. Many patented technologies had multiple "inventors" working on very similar lines towards basically the same goal. Sometimes hours is the difference between one person getting the patent and another not.

The patent, similar to copyright, ideally is a trade-off for society. Society gives up the right to use readily available knowledge to the developer of a particular set of knowledge and in return hoping to give incentive for greater knowledge to be developed. In other terms patents, and copyright and other IP laws generally allow for inventors/artists/creators to profit from their creations and thus hopefully use those profits in order to make more creations.

However, recently the cost to society for keeping IP in private hands has been overlooked. The benefit of IP laws in general is real, but they must have moderation.

Re:can you explain? (1)

Viridae (1472035) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754349)

*gives up the right to use it for a time, in exchange for free access once the patent has expired - thats the other thing about patents, the invention is described in full meaning that when it does expire any man or his dog can replicate the technology without having to conduct the research.

Re:can you explain? (3, Interesting)

SlashWombat (1227578) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754283)

At the time of its invention, it was not a simple application of known techniques. Now many digital transmission schemes use similar techniques. So yes, they deserve some credit for the invention. (The reason it wasn't mainstream before this is due to them using a CSIRO FFT hardware chip, something that wasn't really around until chip manufacturers/designers achieved the miniaturization necessary for its implementation. The FFT wasn't even described as a mathematical process until early 1960.

Re:Are you fucking serious. (1)

MrMr (219533) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754221)

Hi - we've developed and tested a new technology with your tax money, here it is, and here is how to use it. Please pay more money for the privilige of using what was yours already.

Fixed that for you.

Re:Are you fucking serious. (2, Insightful)

enoz (1181117) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753751)

From TFA:

HP, Apple, Intel, Dell, Microsoft and Netgear bringing cases against CSIRO in an attempt to have the research organisation's patent invalidated.

Does anyone else think these companies are the real trolls?

Re:Are you fucking serious. (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753799)

Does anyone else think these companies are the real trolls?

Duh.

Though the way so many American companies have been allowed to transform themselves into brutal, antisocial organisations speaks more of a failed regulatory climate than an inherent failure of the businesses themselves.

Re:Are you fucking serious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29754195)

fucking A

Re:Are you fucking serious. (0, Troll)

baboo_jackal (1021741) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753843)

Totally, because those companies are completely cutting into CSIRO's wireless networking hardware business. My CSIRO wireless router is awesome, and it works great with the CSIRO wireless car-

Oh, wait...

Re:Are you fucking serious. (2, Insightful)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753933)

So how do research organisations exist, if not by licensing their research outcomes?

Re:Are you fucking serious. (1)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754015)

CSIRO exists because it's publicly funded. It's publicly funded because it's supposed to benefit the public and create research results usable by everybody.

Everybody? (2, Informative)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754061)

This [austlii.edu.au] details precisely what CSIRO is supposed to do. Note that 8a refers to Australia rather a lot.

Re:Are you fucking serious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29754029)

Well, CSIRO is a "national science agency". I'm not blaming the guys running CSIRO, just pointing out that there are other ways to fund national science agencies...

Re:Are you fucking serious. (1)

adona1 (1078711) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754209)

Yeah..........unless you're developing weapons, it's often hard for science agencies to get government funding as a guarantee...

Re:Are you fucking serious. (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754097)

That brings up a somewhat interesting question. Personally I prefer an independent research institute who'll licence their patent to anyone for a reasonable fee than a company who'll use a patent to create a monopoly for their own product offerings.

Re:Are you fucking serious. (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754065)

The patent system is the troll.

A non-adversarial way of promoting the advancement of the arts and sciences would remove the basis for these sorts of wasteful, expensive court fights, just for starters. No one would have to fear being sued by trolls or threatened by huge patent portfolios. Wouldn't have to weigh whether using hundreds of tiny little ideas, even those ideas one came up with independently, is worth the risk.

Re:Are you fucking serious. (2, Insightful)

amorsen (7485) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754241)

From my cursory reading, it appears that the technology was independently rediscovered. As far as I know, this isn't a defence in patent cases (except if you discovered it first but didn't publish), but IMHO that should be changed. If you actually gain from using a patent it makes at least some sense that you should pay, but if you independently develop something without knowing about the previous patent, you're just being punished for not being lucky.

I can see plenty of problems with changing this, but I doubt it can make patent cases all that much more complicated.

Re:Are you fucking serious. (2, Interesting)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753953)

They are nothing alike. PARC is a private, corporate research lab. CSIRO is a public, government funded organization.

Only fair (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29753575)

Pat on the back for CSIRO. One of the ways government-owned research organizations can expect to survive is by monetizing inventions - when companies like Lucent, Buffalo, Linksys, Apple etc. all make a killing off this stuff and didn't invest in its development it is only fair they are forced to pay up.

Re:Only fair (4, Informative)

dark_requiem (806308) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753779)

If it's a government-owned research organization, what right do they have patenting it? Government-owned implies tax-funded, which means that the costs have already been shifted to the general public. How is it legitimate to force people to pay for research and then deny them access to the results? And to preempt those who will bring this up, yes, you can argue that corporations aren't "people", but they are groups of people. Besides which, if a single individual wanted to hack together some wifi cards and sell them to a few people, they would still technically be infringing on the patent, and thus be as liable as a corporate entity.

Re:Only fair (4, Insightful)

Barny (103770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753805)

Ok then, this should be fun :)

So lets put a tax, oh about $2 should do, on any N class wireless device sold outside of Australia, the results would be more favorable to the CSIRO (an Australian tax-payer funded research group) I think.

Re:Only fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29753905)

Well, see, now Australians paid for CSIRO and its research with their taxes, and now they will be paying CSIRO that extra $2 "patent tax" anyway.

Wait, you didn't actually think those royalties were going to come out of the licensing corporations' profits, now did you? Heh-heh. No, they will do what they always have -- pass on the cost to the consumer; i.e., the taxpayer.

In the end, the taxpayers (as a group) get the shaft.

The only way government research organizations should be able to hold patents is *IF* they only receive money through the licensing of said patents, rather than taking taxpayer revenue (including corporate taxpayers). The moment tax revenue is taken as a funding source, patents resulting from it should either be disallowed, or perpetually licensed to the public, royalty-free. Otherwise, it is a conflict of interests.

Regardless, the validity of the patents is not really in dispute.

Re:Only fair (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29753963)

If they tax every router and all that money goes to Australia, it seems only non-Australian taxpayers get the shaft. While the Australians could have the $2 built into their price as well, their government is getting not only that $2 but the $2 from everyone else. Which means they could lower taxes on Australia.

Re:Only fair (2, Insightful)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754181)

Well, as an Australian taxpayer. It isn't really about the taxes I paid, it's about the taxes that the companies being sued didn't pay.

If an Australian company(or even a foreign company with a certain amount of presence here) wants license the technology they should get it for free. They are, after all, paying Australian taxes, and creating Australian jobs, all of which is good for Australia.

Companies who don't have a certain amount of presence here, aren't paying taxes here, or creating jobs here, can pay for the license. This provides the dual advantage of giving more funding to the CSIRO(which is good), and providing an advantage to companies who provide an advantage to Australians.

It'd be neat if Australians could get the kit $2 cheaper, but I'm happy to pay the extra $2 and give a leg up to folks who want to create jobs here.

Re:Only fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29753809)

So as an Australian taxpayer I have to subsidise foreign wifi users?
Wake up.

Re:Only fair (0, Flamebait)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753849)

So as an Australian taxpayer I have to subsidise foreign wifi users? Wake up.

Right; It's totally unfair. After so many things were invented by Australians which everyone else benefits from. The motor car; the transistor; the windmill; money; even the wheel. It's time the Australian tax payer got their fair pay back for being the main driver of invention in the world.

Re:Only fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29754027)

You forgot the Hills Hoist... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hills_Hoist [wikipedia.org]

Re:Only fair (2, Informative)

tg123 (1409503) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754233)

....................

Right; It's totally unfair. After so many things were invented by Australians which everyone else benefits from. The motor car; the transistor; the windmill; money; even the wheel. It's time the Australian tax payer got their fair pay back for being the main driver of invention in the world.

I know your being sarcastic but ...

PAYUP as an australian tax payer I would like to
get my money back for

"Black Box" flight recorder
Aircraft Navigation (DME)
Penicillin (production in commercial amounts)
Cochlear implant
Contact lenses (long wearing)
Anthrax Vaccine
Heart Pacemaker
Relenza (flu medication) .......
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distance_measuring_equipment [wikipedia.org]

http://www.questacon.edu.au/indepth/clever/100_years_of_innovations.html [questacon.edu.au]

Re:Only fair (1)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754247)

Wow, nice sarcasm, and well pointed, because Australians have invented nothing at all [wikipedia.org] ...

Re:Only fair (4, Insightful)

Znarl (23283) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753819)

The Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization (CSIRO) is funded by the Australian tax paying citizens.

It is legitimate for Australians to be rewarded for research they paid for by in the form of licensing fees from the rest of the world.

Re:Only fair (3, Interesting)

MrMr (219533) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754271)

Interesting viewpoint. How much does Oz contribute to DARPA for the use of internet?
Or to England for Penicillin?
Or for any of the thousands of inventions funded by non-Australian citizens?
But that would actually cost money, so that cannot possibly be fair.

Re:Only fair (1)

XDirtypunkX (1290358) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753827)

If governments invest tax money wisely, then they get a return on that investment and we have to pay less taxes (and the next piece of technology can be developed). It's not like these corporations aren't making money off the wireless technology someone else developed.

Besides which, of these large corporations, how many are Australian? How do Australians benefit from more of their money flowing out of the country for technology they paid to develop?

Re:Only fair (4, Insightful)

tpgp (48001) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753831)

Government-owned implies tax-funded, which means that the costs have already been shifted to the general public. How is it legitimate to force people to pay for research and then deny them access to the results?

You missed a few pertinent words in your question Let me add them for you - they make the answer obvious.

How is it legitimate to force Australian people to pay for research and then deny American & European Corporations access to the results?

Re:Only fair (0, Troll)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754037)

How is it legitimate to force Australian people to pay for research and then deny American & European Corporations access to the results?

I restate your question like this:

How is it legitimate to force American & European people to pay for research and then deny Everyone Else access to the results?

That is how the internet has worked for years. So analogously it works.

Re:Only fair (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753837)

Government-owned implies tax-funded, which means that the costs have already been shifted to the general public.

The Australian general public paid for it.

American companies are exploiting it (and charging Australians premium prices for it).

Do you see why Australians might like to see an organisation which has been funded by us, and will return benefits to us, receiving the profits of their invested capital rather than the money going to organisations which have no connection to the Australian general public?

Re:Only fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29753847)

As far as I understand it makes perfectly sense. By getting some money from another source you can lower the money the tax payer has to put into the organization. The net result is a lowering of tax payers cost.

So - in stead of people that never use this technology are paying for the research, the research cost are now payed by the people that DOES use the technology.

Seems fair to me....

Only paid for by the Australian tax payer (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753863)

And even then I suspect most Australian tax payers would like CSIRO to fund itself to the degree it can and would think it reasonable that the actual users of a technology would pay where that is feasable.

Re:Only fair (2, Informative)

HiThere (15173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753865)

I believe it's Australian. Why should anyone who isn't Australian have the right to use that patent without paying the license?

(I pretty much agree with your basic argument, but not with the details. If the Australian's paid for it with taxes, then there's a good argument that they should be able to use it without paying patent license fees. This argument, however, doesn't work for someone living in, e.g., the US though.)

A different argument would assert that this entire class of things shouldn't be patentable. I'd be hospitable to that kind of an argument, but "the devil is in the details". I *don't* think the same work should be covered by any two of patent, copyright, DRM. Saying that no patents should be valid, however, is a bit further than I'm willing to go without further evidence. (I *would* go so far as to say, for the US, all patent laws should be thrown out, all extant patents should be invalidated, and the patent system should be recreated from scratch, with no monopoly granted by the patent. Some other mechanism is needed to reward inventors. A royalty seems reasonable, but I can't figure out how to justly set the worth of an invention for such a royalty.)

Re:Only fair (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753959)

Different country, my dear friend!

And getting money back for that technology will reduce the bill to the taxpayers in the future.

Re:Only fair (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753961)

Maybe because the Tax Payers of Australia don't want the tax payers of the United States, China, Singapore, Germany, France etc... to benefit without paying taxes towards the research?

Re:Only fair (2, Insightful)

atmurray (983797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754009)

You make the fatal mistake that unless your Australian, you probably didn't fund the initial research. So to put your question back on you, if your tax dollars weren't spent developing it, what right do you have to use the technology for free?

Re:Only fair (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754161)

The CSIRO are under a lot of pressure to generate their own revenue and become more self funded and i don't really see how it's immoral to generate revenue from more than one stream just because some of your cash-flow comes from the taxpayer. Also it's probably worth bringing up that this is Australian tax money, and none of these corporations have paid any tax that might make them eligible for the idea that they've already paid in some way for the right to use it.

Re:Only fair (1)

rigolo (416338) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753803)

when companies like Lucent [snip] .. didn't invest in its development it is only fair they are forced to pay up.

mmmm did Lucent (or actually AT&T or actually NCR) not invest in the wifi development?? You beter check your history books. Wi-Fi was "invented" and developed by Lucent/AT&T/NCR in the Netherlands in 1990. They were the first to bring a WiFi product to the market. So you can not claim they did not invest in it's development.

how is this fair? (1)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753937)

Government-owned organizations are paid for by taxes. Why should I pay once for the invention by taxes and then again through licensing fees?

Re:how is this fair? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754025)

so you pay tax in all the countries wireless gear is sold? fail!

Re:how is this fair? (1)

tg123 (1409503) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754285)

Government-owned organizations are paid for by taxes. Why should I pay once for the invention by taxes and then again through licensing fees?

Its my taxes buddy (assuming your not australian) and I would like you to pony up the cash.

Are patents worth it? (0)

plague911 (1292006) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753579)

Ya the idea has been beat to death but the article made an interesting comment ".'We would urge companies that are currently selling devices that have 802.11 a,g or n to contact CSIRO and to seek a license because we believe they are using our technology.'" One of the arguments for patents is that it encourages individuals and firms to innovate in order so they can receive a financial gain via a patent. But what about the situation where you are accidentally violating a patent. Yes this is a very slippery slope situation but really is there any advantage to society to preventing an entity from using something they would have re-invented any way

? A example of another way would patents could be held to mitigate this would be. That the patent holder has all rights to sell and license a technology however a co-inventer who developed the technology independently has the right to produce and sell goods and services using the technology. Like I said its a slippery slope but patent law is already complicated enough so its just a drop in a bucket

Re:Are patents worth it? (1)

horatio (127595) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753821)

Are they worth it? How many great inventions are not coming to market, either because of fear of being sued or because some asshole is sitting on a patent for the one thing you need to make your new invention work - and if you try to make anything even resembling his widget, boy you're in deep shit? How much more expensive are everyday products we buy because of patent trolls? This really isn't that much different than malpractice lawyers (ambulance chasers). Doctors have to get insanely expensive insurance because you know some dumbass is going to sue you for something really stupid and the trial lawyer is going to take 60%+ of the extortion money.

Seems the same when developing *any* tech these days. It is a damn mine field. Some obscure firm or individual is going to come out of the woodwork *after* the technology is common place, and claim they have a really vague patent on some really obscure sub-assembly that just happens to be critical to your invention - which you came up with, completely unaware anyone else had any similar ideas. I don't know that this is the case here specifically, but it seems like this is the operating procedure for patent trolls.

So companies like Intel, IBM, etc have to spend insane amounts of money - passed onto us in the form of higher unit costs - patenting sometimes really stupid things so no one can sue them, and hiring armies of lawyers to either try to defend the company from trolls or waste time trying to figure out if the hanging chad which really is nothing like joe troll's patent your researchers dug up, could come back to bite the company in the ass.

Look, I get that inventors aren't going to always have the capital to build something now, or the manufacturing capabilities, so it takes time to get either one of those things together to get your invention from concept to product. But for crying out loud, to claim damages for patent infringement, shouldn't you have to be able to actually show that you lost something, that you have damages, that you at least have paperwork demonstrating your effort to bring your product to market? Isn't that the point of a patent, so that you have the right to market your idea without someone stealing it? These asshats who are nothing more than shell organizations and no assets beyond a cellphone and a patent portfolio are ridiculous.

It saddens me to think that if the patent system was as screwed up today as it was when Edison and Westinghouse were vying to bring electricity to homes, we'd all still be sitting in the dark - because the discovery/inventions would have been lost to the energy of fighting over patents, and probably still be tied up in litigation.

Re:Are patents worth it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29754261)

RTFA!

Who's the asshat now? At least be smart enough not to log in when you're not going to even read up about the issue at all before posting a comment.

Re:Are patents worth it? (1)

MrMr (219533) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754323)

How much more expensive are everyday products we buy because of patent trolls
Or because of legitimate patents: A patent is designed to increase the price of a product to the highest possible level the market can bear.
For drugs this means a 1000% mark-up at least, based on the price drop if drugs go 'generic'.

Patent trolls (-1, Troll)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753585)

Patent trolls seems to pop up everywhere.

Isn't this an indication that the system is severely flawed when someone pops up very late to the table and claims that they own it?

So limit the patent possibility to physical inventions that you can touch. Softwares and methods are too easy to re-invent all over again, and who can tell if a certain solution has been available before and then silently put to the grave for one reason or another?

Re:Patent trolls (5, Insightful)

scjohnno (1370701) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753613)

Can someone please justify why we should consider the CSIRO to be a patent troll? They are an actual research organisation (a taxpayer-funded one at that); they don't exist just to file patents and make claims on them. Why are people dismissing them as trolls?

Re:Patent trolls (1)

sc0ob5 (836562) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753649)

Because they have no idea perhaps?

Re:Patent trolls (1)

Chuq (8564) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753695)

Are you referring to the CSIRO, or the people posting here who claim they [the CSIRO] are patent trolls? :P

Re:Patent trolls (3, Insightful)

Canberra Bob (763479) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753725)

Can someone please justify why we should consider the CSIRO to be a patent troll? They are an actual research organisation (a taxpayer-funded one at that); they don't exist just to file patents and make claims on them. Why are people dismissing them as trolls?

Because it's slashdot. You would be lucky for the majority of posters to read the the summary let alone any background info. Congratulations to the CSIRO for their success on this - in spite of having their funding savaged. Though the technology was patented in 96 so the r+d was possibly done before it became a target of budget cuts.

in spite of having their funding savaged? (4, Informative)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753791)

n spite of having their funding savaged

Er, according to this article [news.com.au] :

With government funding boosted for the fifth year in a row to $668.1 million,

What "savaging" are you talking about?

Re:Patent trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29753773)

because.. if they're taxpayer funded, then the information belongs to the public.. to ALL, including those who have companies that could use the technology. corps pay taxes too.

Re:Patent trolls (0, Flamebait)

Llian (615902) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753919)

Yet you missed the fact its AUSTRALIAN. Sure, lets give AUSTRALIAN corps free access, and charge US and EU corps double because we want to be asses

Re:Patent trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29754107)

The location doesn't matter. If the taxpayer paid for it, I think the taxpayer should be able to use it.

Re:Patent trolls (1)

draco664 (960985) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754367)

The location doesn't matter. If the taxpayer paid for it, I think the taxpayer should be able to use it.

Er, what?

Are you suggesting that, as a taxpayer in one country, I should have access to and use products and services paid for by another country?

What the fuck are you smoking, because it sure as hell needs to be made illegal.

Re:Patent trolls (1)

drkwatr (609301) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753801)

Why? I would say in my opinion, because there isn't anything "novel" about what they did. I'm sorry if a person can create the same thing independently of, and never having read or seen anybody's work then how innovative is it? I have recently managed to create a completely reconfigurable computer complete with an I/O bus (which is what allows physical pins to be remapped via software) with nothing more than a high school education. I imagine though somewhere out there is some fancy research facility being well funded to do exactly that. There is nothing magical about what one person does people; anybody can do anything. I won't pay them squat. I will simply quit using anything WiFi for the time being. I think there is something better out there we could use, and besides if it isn't using radio then we don't need any stinking licenses from the FCC. =)

Re:Patent trolls (-1)

crazybit (918023) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753871)

Shouldn't that mean that the owners of the technology are the taxpayers? At least US citizens should be allowed to buy wi-fi hardware at less price than the rest of the world. Besides, if CSIRO is funded by taxpayers, they don't need the money to survive as a company - they are already being funded by the taxpaying US population.

If US citizens could have free access to use/develop products with technology that was developed with their money maybe we will see the "made in USA" logo in many more products (like in the 80's).

Re:Patent trolls (1)

jibjibjib (889679) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753921)

Wow, you have no fucking idea. You didn't even get through the first sentence of the summary.

Re:Patent trolls (1)

Canberra Bob (763479) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754001)

Hint: the very first line of the summary is "iTnews reports the patent battle between Australia's CSIRO and 14 of the world's largest technology companies has gained the research organization $200 million from out of court settlements." Now how much US taxpayer funds do you think have been involved in this?

Re:Patent trolls (1)

scsirob (246572) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753891)

Dit they get an assignment from the public to research and develop this technology?

In other words, was this developed for the greater good of humanity, or because someone had an itch??

Re:Patent trolls (0)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754073)

Can someone please justify why we should consider the CSIRO to be a patent troll? They are an actual research organisation (a taxpayer-funded one at that); they don't exist just to file patents and make claims on them. Why are people dismissing them as trolls?

Because in this case they went after independent invention, a standard late in the process, put good vendors out of the market in certain jurisdictions (e.g. Buffalo in the US) and generally dragged down 802.11n for years.

This wasn't for the public good, which is what government organizations are supposed to do. Heck, I'd wager Australian businesses alone lost more than $200M over the course of several years due to their lawsuits. So, add 'self-defeating' to the list.

Re:Patent trolls (5, Informative)

nickd (58841) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753639)

Except that they aren't patent trolls - they are the Australian Government's science organisation - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), they have been in this battle for quite a while.

Read up on the WLAN stuff here http://www.csiro.gov.au/science/wireless-LANs.html [csiro.gov.au]

Then get back to us when you think that inventing wireless networking technology is easy and doesn't warrant the possibility of being patented.

read up on the history (1)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753999)

Wireless networking was developed by amateur radio operators, not by CSIRO. By the time CSIRO filed its patent (1996), you already could buy WLAN hardware commercially. CSIRO patented some specific techniques that happened to be present in several standards, but it's not even clear whether what they patented is an engineering solution (not patentable) or a true invention (patentable). That's why companies decided to challenge their patent in court.

Speaking of trolls (2, Informative)

Jeremy Visser (1205626) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753683)

Isn't this an indication that the system is severely flawed when someone pops up very late to the table and claims that they own it?

[...] Softwares and methods are too easy to re-invent all over again, and who can tell if a certain solution has been available before and then silently put to the grave for one reason or another?

Speaking of trolls, you are one yourself. Before you mod me into oblivion, hear me out.

In your post, you seem to claim that (1) CSIRO is a patent troll; and that (2) the patent is a software patent, thus is unethical. Both claims are patently false. (ha ha)

For starters, to address claim (1), CSIRO is not a patent troll. What is a patent troll? A patent troll is an organisation that exists only to accumulate patents (and make a profit off royalties). CSIRO is not a patent troll! They are an Australian Government-funded organisation that does real research. They actually researched and patented the technology back in the early '90s. (Source) [abc.net.au]

To address claim (2), the patent in question is not a software patent! Thus the entire basis for your argument...

Softwares and methods are too easy to re-invent all over again, and who can tell if a certain solution has been available before and then silently put to the grave for one reason or another?

...is completely baseless. The patent in question covers the duplication and redundancy of radio waves, so it is obviously not a software patent. Basically the patent covers the way modern WiFi works, in that instead of serial (just one radio wave with error correction), parallel and redundant streams are sent, which allows you to have much greater bandwidth without losing the reliability. (And yes, that source again) [abc.net.au]

Re:Speaking of trolls (2, Insightful)

ajs (35943) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753735)

CSIRO is not a patent troll. What is a patent troll? A patent troll is an organisation that exists only to accumulate patents (and make a profit off royalties).

I've tried to make this point, here in the past as well. The responses that I got indicted that there are many Slashdot readers who think "patent troll" is what you call someone who tried to defend a patent in court, irrespective of a) their involvement in the actual invention or b) the defensibility of said patent.

As far as I can tell, this is just backlash from folks who don't understand the patent system as it's intended to protect actual inventors of non-obvious technology, and see actual patent trolls manipulating the system for outrageous gain. I can understand the frustration, there, but it's clearly not a rational approach.

Re:Speaking of trolls (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753785)

The nicest example I have heard of patents working the right way is the Rolling Loop IMAX Projector [in70mm.com] . The IMAX developers actually went to Ron Jones's home in Western Australia, looked at his prototype projector and pretty much bought his patent on the spot.

Re:Speaking of trolls (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753897)

That is actually very cute. It's worth looking at the patent [freepatentsonline.com] where any layman can actually get the gist of what the invention is and does by just looking at the pictures let alone reading the text. The contrast with most software patents where you don't have a clue what the invention is even after reading in detail and even if you are an expert in a nearby area couldn't be stronger.

Re:Patent trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29753833)

The real issue is that some idiot at IEEE wrote a wireless spec that violated this patent. Wonder if CSIRO was involved in that at all...

It's like the goddamn Rambus bullshit all over again.

CSIRO now in budget surplus (5, Informative)

bennyboy64 (1437419) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753591)

It was also the first time the research organization had seen a surplus in its financial reporting http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,26209952-12377,00.html [news.com.au]

Re:CSIRO now in budget surplus (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753669)

Don't spend it all at once...

Re:CSIRO now in budget surplus (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753677)

It was also the first time the research organization had seen a surplus in its financial reporting

Er, the article you linked to says it's the biggest ever and twice the size of last years, not the first surplus ever.

The interesting (to me) figure in the article is that they have increased the number of scientists employed by 6% over the last 5 years, bringing it to a total of 1837. We hear a lot about the "brain drain" so it's nice to see growth in scientific support.

Re:CSIRO now in budget surplus (0, Redundant)

bennyboy64 (1437419) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753689)

You're right.

Desire to license (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29753621)

So much text for an article that can be summarized as:

Patent Troll: "It is our desire to collect money from our patented technology that we license but don't actually make."

Noticeably absent from the list of defendents-to-be: Cisco. Not because they aren't infringing on any patents, but because the name is too close to CISRO that it would confuse a jury. Would be fun if they thought CISRO was a knockoff. ^^

Re:Desire to license (2, Funny)

Chuq (8564) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753703)

but because the name is too close to CISRO that it would confuse a jury
 
... looks like a jury wouldn't be the only one confused.

Re:Desire to license (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753755)

So CISCO was using CSIRO technology without licensing it? Shame!

Re:Desire to license (4, Informative)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753711)

Noticeably absent from the list of defendents-to-be: Cisco. Not because they aren't infringing on any patents,

Cisco aren't on the list because they already have a licence for the tech for which they pay royalties.

Re:Desire to license (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753769)

That certainly helps explain their router prices! Good to hear of a company doing it the proper way. Many companies try to only respect IP law when it benefits them.

Desire to troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29753777)

Obvious troll is...
obvious

Anonymous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29753975)

Anonymous troll is...
anonymous

wifi allergies (2, Funny)

hydromike2 (1457879) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753765)

ah, so I should be sending CSIRO the medical bills for my wifi allergy shots!

Re:wifi allergies (3, Funny)

biovoid (785377) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754007)

If you have an allergy to your wifi, you shouldn't have married her.

Alternatives to 802.11a,g,n (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753867)

What do you bet there are a few alternatives coming down the pipe soon? IBM, Apple, Intel, everybody coming out with the 'better wireless networking' technology.

Re:Alternatives to 802.11a,g,n (1)

David at Eeyore (20627) | more than 4 years ago | (#29753907)

Since being able to patent a novel technology (and reasonably claim some reward by licensing, as CSIRO has done) is what drives others to develop even more novel technologies which can be patented and licensed for reward and so on...

I wouldn't assume that it will be necessarily IBM or Intel or the cult fruity computer co. that will come up with the next great innovation.

Re:Alternatives to 802.11a,g,n (1)

biovoid (785377) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754021)

Develop an alternative - easy.

Making it a standard when a standard already exists that is supported in thousands of devices and established infrastructure - hard.

Particularly if "IBM, Apple, Intel, everybody" all come out with different alternatives. Won't happen.

Re:Alternatives to 802.11a,g,n (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754135)

What do you bet there are a few alternatives coming down the pipe soon?

Given how long "N" took to reach standardisation I'd be surprised if any alternative happened "soon".

Grammar has a purpose (1)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754187)

From the summary, doesn't it bother anyone that Nigel Poole isn't the director of anything. He's the director of an adjective or adverb. "Director of Commercial".

Director of Commercial WHAT? Commercial Espionage? Commercial Litigation? Commercial Applications of Research? Or maybe he's Director of Television Commercials? Who can tell?

Re:Grammar has a purpose (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754325)

His actual title appears to be "Executive Director, Commercial". They all [csiro.au] seem to be phrased that way, presumably so the "Executive Director", "Group Director" etc bits of the title are all up front, rather than being buried at the end of lengthy domains like "Human Resources, Safety and Sustainability". As such it's really "Commercial Executive Director", which isn't so bad.

Samzenpus Trolls Slashdot's Australian Membership (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29754295)

Samzenpus successfully trolls Slashdot's Australian membership, Slashdot's ad revenue increases accordingly from the resultant bleating.

Horraay! (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29754329)

for Fast Fourier Transform and multi spectrum rf echo cancelation!!!
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