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CSIRO Reinvests Patent Earnings

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the un-patent-troll dept.

Patents 86

ozmanjusri writes with an update to a story we discussed a few days ago about a $200 million patent victory by CSIRO, Australia's governmental science research body. The organization has now turned around and reinvested $150 million of the proceeds into the science and industry endowment fund, which has already established three grants: "$12 million for two wireless research projects and $7.5 million for up to 120 fellowships and scholarships." CSIRO boss Megan Clark said, "It's very important that when you have a success like this, you reinvest it back into the wellspring. It's really about supporting areas that might need a helping hand in some of the frontier areas and research that actually tackles the national challenges."

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and here in USA... (5, Insightful)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822189)

When a patent victory comes, it goes straight out as executive pay bonus.

Re:and here in USA... (2, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822589)

I was listening to NPR yesterday and they were talking about executive pay bonuses in the financial industry. The point was made that in an industry where you make tangible goods or supply tangible services you can invest profits in upgrading what-ever it is you do (IE CSIRO invests back into research). However in the financial sector, there is no tangible goods or services other than making money. So the only place for the profits to go is to bonuses or shareholder profits.

Re:and here in USA... (4, Interesting)

bdsesq (515351) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822833)

So the only place for the profits to go is to bonuses or shareholder profits.

How about corporate charitable giving?
Or using the money to extend the business?

The problem is that the choice before the executives is between doing something good for the business or possible for humanity and lining their own pockets.

Re:and here in USA... (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 4 years ago | (#29823437)

The problem is that the choice before the executives is between doing something good for the business or possible for humanity and lining their own pockets.

And that was identified by one of the presenters as being a problem with capitalism. He was contending that perhaps we should be looking to a system that worked for the good of all rather than the short term benefit of some (Note that this person was also pushing his book that discussed this belief)

Re:and here in USA... (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 4 years ago | (#29826647)

He was contending that perhaps we should be looking to a system that worked for the good of all rather than the short term benefit of some

The two are not mutually exclusive.

We cannot extrapolate the long-term social implications of how we use our resources.
Look at the cliche of the man and the fish. Give a man a fish he eats for a day, teach a man to fish he may end up starving if his fishing pole breaks.
The unpredictability of the world means that there is no perfect answer on how best to use resources. Best intentions do not necessarily translate into best results.

For decades the greed of industrialization was seen as bad, it put workers out of employment. Later the plenty created by industrial efficiencies created an improved standard of living. Now the pendulum has swung back and the environmental impact of industrialization poses a long-term social threat.
Trying to identify how best to allocate resources for the benefit of all requires amazing powers of premonition.

Re:and here in USA... (1)

GrpA (691294) | more than 4 years ago | (#29830939)

Actually, if you teach a man to fish, his knowledge exceeds the point where the tools are critical to the task. About the only thing that's going to cause him to starve to death is overfishing caused by commercial operations... And they tend to waste a lot of the food that would feed starving people too because there's a belief that if you give your product away to anyone, you can't sell it to anyone.

Greed is always bad. It leads to wars, conflict and many other problems. It's not wanting a better life, it's when you want more more than you're entitled to based on your efforts.

It would be too easy to say that it drives people to create things. A lot of people are driven by other motivation too. They're usually the ones who bring us the greatest innovations and life-improving technologies.

GrpA

Re:and here in USA... (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 4 years ago | (#29839239)

Actually, if you teach a man to fish, his knowledge exceeds the point where the tools are critical to the task.

The knowledge of how to fish doesn't magically give the man sustinance, to get a fish resources must be invested. The question of "fairness" is where those resources must come from.
By giving the man a fish, the resource burden is placed entirely on those with nothing to gain. By teaching the man to fish the burden is placed on the same person who will ultimately benefit.

About the only thing that's going to cause him to starve to death is overfishing caused by commercial operations...

As you point out previously, the survival of the man who fishes is critically based on his tools. Without the tool, the knowledge is useless and he will die. This intimate dependency, between the fisherman and the tool-maker gives rise to specialization and trade, which in-turn allows for an overall social improvement through comparative advantage.

Greed has a place in fostering economic expansion to the betterment of everybody.
Imagine a "greedy" fishing pole salesman. It is to his advantage to teach everbody he knows fishing techniques, so they can in turn buy more fishing poles from him. He has improved society to gain individual profit.

That's not to say greed is always helpful, like other concepts it can be molded towards good or evil ends. Greed does not corrupt, the corrupt use greed as a means to their goals.

And they tend to waste a lot of the food that would feed starving people too because there's a belief that if you give your product away to anyone, you can't sell it to anyone

Most starvation occurs because of distribution and political issues. Tons of food literally sit on docks rotting away because of government red tape, and in other areas local military/political figures hijack the food to control their populace.

Greed is always bad. It leads to wars, conflict and many other problems.

So do love and freedom. Harmful consequences do not always reflect the inherent morality of motivation.

It would be too easy to say that it drives people to create things. A lot of people are driven by other motivation too. They're usually the ones who bring us the greatest innovations and life-improving technologies.

Those other motivations aren't necessarily noble. War brought us the computer, internet, space travel, cryptography, roads, etc. Social stratification helped establish rights and obligations of government towards the people.

As mentioned before, it's typically the individual who is corrupt and leverages institutions to meet their goals, rather than the institutions themselves being corrupt in nature.

Re:and here in USA... (3, Insightful)

MattHaffner (101554) | more than 4 years ago | (#29823253)

So the only place for the profits to go is to bonuses or shareholder profits.

How about put it in the friggin' bank so we don't have to use taxpayer money to bail you out when there's a bust in the market that you're gambling in?

Re:and here in USA... (2, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29823805)

I would think that long term investments in government and infrastructure would do a lot of good for the bank, the nation, and for the people. It might not be as good as charitable donations, but anything that strengthens the country has to be good for the bank in the long run.

Of course, buying government bonds don't pay excitingly high dividends, so it isn't attractive to the thrill seeking executives to whom banking is a game.

Re:and here in USA... (1)

200_success (623160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29825423)

So the only place for the profits to go is to bonuses or shareholder profits.

How about put it in the friggin' bank so we don't have to use taxpayer money to bail you out when there's a bust in the market that you're gambling in?

And where is the bank going to put the money? That doesn't solve anything, it just passes the problem around.

Re:and here in USA... (1)

matt_wilts (249194) | more than 4 years ago | (#29823987)

>So the only place for the profits to go is to bonuses or shareholder profits

Not strictly true - if you're a mutual organisation (e.g. building society in the UK) then you could always reinvest the profits towards lower interest rates for your borrowers. Unfortunately most of these mutuals are converting into banks here in the UK.

Re:and here in USA... (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#29824155)

Unfortunately most of these mutuals are converting into banks here in the UK.
You are a bit behind the times, the wave of conversions happened about a decade ago.

Re:and here in USA... (1)

aXis100 (690904) | more than 4 years ago | (#29824019)

That's bogus. You can keep the money and use it for 1) further investment or 2) increase your cash position to better guarantee against risks. Clearly #2 wasnt happening in the USA much, which is why all of the banks collapsed.

Re:and here in USA... (1)

jmv (93421) | more than 4 years ago | (#29830765)

Actually, the main problem I have with bonuses in the financial industries is not that much about "they're already making so much money", but the fact that they are an incentive to do the "wrong" thing. If you give the reward based on how much money the investments returned, then you are simply rewarding risk-taking. Not only because risky investments pay more, but because bonuses cannot be negative. Hence if you were to "bet" one billion with 50% odds, it would be profitable in terms of bonus. If you win, you make a huge bonus (and you're a hero). If you lose, you get fired and you get to bet again in your next job. I'm of course simplifying a bit, but that still describes the fundamental problem IMO.

Re:and here in USA... (1)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822709)

Anyone else ever wonder about how that situation came to be in America? Weren't we the people who cheered for the underdog? The people who would have cheered for David instead of Goliath? Why are we so interested in protecting the pay of top executives and already wealthy, if some of the political debates over the last decade is any indication?

Re:and here in USA... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29822803)

Not to speak for others, but I for one value opportunities over outcomes. It's none of the government's business what "the pay of top executives and already wealthy" is. The freedom to do as one chooses with one's own wealth is so much more important than the equitable distribution of wealth.

Re:and here in USA... (5, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822989)

I don't normally reply to ACs, but this one demands it.

It's one thing to say it's no business of the government to say how much someone in the private sector gets paid. It's quite another thing when those same private businesses are being propped up by taxpayer monies because those executives making millions of dollars in pay and bonuses all but bankrupted those businesses.

Then it becomes the government's business because they're the one footing the bill to keep those businesses afloat.

Once those businesses pay back all the money they got, then the executives can resume getting their big bucks. Until then, their pay should be restricted.

If the executives don't like having their pay scrutinized, then they shouldn't have come hat-in-hand begging to be bailed out.

Re:and here in USA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29823377)

Well, how about we _try_ to separate biz and state?

Limit the scope of what the government does (no bailouts!) and then we don't have a messy political organization to worry about.

Re:and here in USA... (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29824941)

That's crazy talk! I need more government money for another coke binge. I'm too big to fail! Bigger actually. Those crabcakes at that soiree were DEE-licious!

Re:and here in USA... (1)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 4 years ago | (#29831511)

Just turn capitalism into a religion. There's already billions of worshippers, it shouldn't be too hard.

Re:and here in USA... (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29824909)

It's one thing to say it's no business of the government to say how much someone in the private sector gets paid. It's quite another thing when those same private businesses are being propped up by taxpayer monies because those executives making millions of dollars in pay and bonuses all but bankrupted those businesses.

I still think it's no business of government. The key problem is that it's easy to taint any private endeavor with public funds. Just make it so that you are required to accept them as part of the provision for doing the activity that you desire (nuclear power, banking, employing people, etc). Once government has that "in", then by your logic, they can screw with the business as much as desired in the name of protecting the "investment" of public funds.

A better solution is simply to treat the federal government as you would any other party. That means, if the money doesn't go the way the government claims to have wanted (but didn't bother to stipulate), then the government is out of that money, without recourse, but fair just like everyone else. Sure, it's tough luck for the taxpayers. Maybe they'll keep that in mind next time they vote.

Finally, I'm just mystified what people thought was going to happen? Ever hear of the phrase throwing good money after bad money? Ever wonder what that means?

Re:and here in USA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29828129)

It happens when the Jews take over America after WWII.

Re:and here in USA... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29824997)

Yes, yes. We have a single example of a government program that might be doing something right. Hence, it is time for a knee-jerk bash on business. You'll get extra points for working in Micro$oft somehow.

Re:and here in USA... (1)

KwKSilver (857599) | more than 4 years ago | (#29829571)

+ cocaine + politicians + hookers. It's really shameful to support drug dealers and politicians.

Just another tax (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29822219)

Sounds like the government has found a new way to tax industry.

Re:Just another tax (3, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822337)

If by government you mean "research organisation" and by "tax" you mean "earn money on" and "industry" you mean "use of their inventions", then yes, absolutely.

Blacklist the CSIRO employees (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29822253)

CSIRO appearing on a resume should result in an automatic blacklisting from employment or consulting (it will with me). This is sociopathic theft.

Re:Blacklist the CSIRO employees (5, Informative)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822935)

CSIRO appearing on a resume should result in an automatic blacklisting from employment or consulting (it will with me). This is sociopathic theft.

Wow, I've worked with some ex-CSIRO people. You're just screwing yourself there I'm afraid.

Re:Blacklist the CSIRO employees (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29823451)

Integrity matters in my company.

Re:Blacklist the CSIRO employees (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 4 years ago | (#29823917)

Integrity matters in my company.

Says the Anonymous Coward.

Have you ever been paid for work that you did? Sorry, you've just been blcklisted, integrity matters in my company.

Re:Blacklist the CSIRO employees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29826241)

Have you ever been paid for work that you did?

Have the patent trolls? Or did they just dream up an invention and wait for someone else to come along and actually do the work?

Re:Blacklist the CSIRO employees (1)

Sabriel (134364) | more than 4 years ago | (#29830895)

WTF? Seriously, blow a minute of your precious slashdot time to look the CSIRO up before you throw stones from the comfort of your glass house. They're not some slimy shell company with a patent vault, they're an actual research-and-development organisation with thousands of employees - actual scientists and actual laboratories doing actual scientific work - and they've made a real impact on our way of life.

Yes, patents have become a corrupted abomination of their original nature, but if you're going to blacklist the CSIRO you are totally at the wrong end of the carpark. We can only dream that more companies would spend on real science the way that organisations like the CSIRO do.

Re:Blacklist the CSIRO employees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29831611)

They are not trolls. They spent millions on research and development and rightfully expect royalties for use of the fruits of their labour. Or do you have a problem with valid patents on real inventions too?

Re:Blacklist the CSIRO employees (1)

Catharsis (246331) | more than 4 years ago | (#29825987)

CSIRO appearing on a resume should result in an automatic blacklisting from employment or consulting (it will with me). This is sociopathic theft.

Steve Jobs? Is that you?

PR (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822287)

"After seeing the media impact of the previous results we decided to treat it with elementary PR care".

Well, in an environment with so many PR failures, I guess it's something.

Fat pipe to the intertubes (0, Flamebait)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822303)

"$12 million for two wireless research projects" CSIRO boss Megan Clark said

She declined to comment on the fact that the first project took place at the roof of her apartment building and the second was located near a datacenter.

paying big $$ in order to promote disblief (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29822323)

http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/10/21/new.york.subway.ads/index.html

could be that they're afraid of something? did you chip in for that robbIE? reminds a bit of the flat earth society, forcing their irrelevant/concocted om ayn rand(oidian) position on everybody. i think they do that in the vatican & d.c. as well

too bad the proceeds came from stifling progress (1, Troll)

nietsch (112711) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822331)

allocating 3/4 of your winnings to science does not diminish the fact that a state-funded organisation has probably spent the remainder on litigation and harassing hi-tech companies. The issuing of patent with a lifetime of 20 years to technology that has a lifetime of much less is stifling progress.

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (5, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822399)

How does a $200m settlement, for several years of use of the technology, spread over an industry which earns billions per year, stifle progress? The wireless industry's probably been hit harder by the increase in the price of ketchup for the staff canteen.

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (3, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822513)

Known as "The Red Blackout", "The Redout" or simply "Ketchup monday".

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (0, Troll)

nietsch (112711) | more than 4 years ago | (#29825851)

because that 200 million (+ similar amount in attorney fees) could have been spent on research by the ones actually designing and making the devices. add to that the millions of manufacturers that did not fight but decided to pay up. But the bad thing is the methods they used to get their earnings, not the actual subject. patents per-se are bad, so these ones are too. That is is a public institution that does the extortion makes it even worse. Their results should be for the good of all people, or for the good of all australian people if you want to be nationalis.t

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (4, Insightful)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 4 years ago | (#29829367)

because that 200 million (+ similar amount in attorney fees) could have been spent on research by the ones actually designing and making the devices

I wonder why you think that is inherently better?

Given that we're looking at a case where a fresh approach taken by an independent research organisation arrived at an impressive solution that the people "actually designing and making" the devices weren't even beginning to think about I think it's fairly obvious that there is value in external research.

I remember the bad old days of wireless networking where you could eke out a bit more speed by choosing equipment from a single manufacturer that used their own particular proprietary, patented technology to get a speed boost. Personally I'd prefer an external organisation willing to licence that technology to everyone.

Their results should be for the good of all people, or for the good of all australian people if you want to be nationalist.

Indeed the reason's for CSIRO's existence is to benefit Australians. As an institution funded by Australians that is reasonable. What they are doing is in the interest of Australians.

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29822453)

Maybe the companies shouldn't have tried to weasel out of paying royalties then.

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29822523)

The issuing of patent with a lifetime of 20 years to technology that has a lifetime of much less is stifling progress.

You're absolutely right, the fact that years of research went into the creation of this outdated technology does not count for anything.

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29822533)

This is just ridiculous - you clearly have no idea about this particular case.

The research for which this patent was granted was THE thing that made modern wireless networking possible. It took radio data transfer from kilobits per second (where it had languished for some time) to a hundred megabits per second. At a time when you were using a 14k modem if you were lucky.

And secondly, while software patents in the USA may be commonly used to stifle innovation, this technology was the thing that enabled the wifi industry to get started and IN NO WAY stifled anything. They haven't limited what it is used for. Or who uses it. Multiple standards have emerged based on it, all in the full foreknowledge that this was the basis technology. This is no submarine patent - the devices and the standards were based on this - and $200M total is pocket change spread among the multibillion giants of the world technology industry.

Third, it is a patent granted for a short time for technology that will be in use for an extremely long time to come.

This is exactly the kind of technological progress that the patent system was designed to encourage - this is the patent system WORKING the way it was intended.

It is amazing that you can be so grossly wrong in so many ways in such a short comment. I have no idea how that got modded 'insightful'.

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (2, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822695)

It's not just "THE thing that made modern wireless networking possible", it is modern wireless networking. The patent abstract:

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.

Shit like Ask Geeves was valued at two billion dollars and people are quibbling that fourteen multi-billion-dollar companies have to spend $200m between them? Seriously?

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (0, Flamebait)

nietsch (112711) | more than 4 years ago | (#29825635)

Comparing with ridiculous factoids does not prove your argument right. if 200 million is pocket change to you, I'd beg you to give a small part of that to me. In return, I will teach you about the tranquility one obtains by not having to work for your money.

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (2, Interesting)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29826931)

You seem to imply CSIRO didn't work for their money, despite inventing, and testing, the technology that a very, very large number of people use daily. That qualifies as then not being a troll, and it qualifies the companies as trying to weasel out of something so small, the payment for the use of their patented technology, it's absurd.

Also, do you think that any company would put that much of the 200 million dollars into research on this one technology? Any company would take that money and run, and usually only come up with an incremental upgrade to what we have now, if anything at all.

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (1)

nietsch (112711) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847489)

Ok, if you don't trust technology companies to invest enough in research, then make a tax to ensure they do. If public bodies ('teh gubbermint') cannot do it, and private companies cannot do it, then I wonder how we get any progress at all. relying on a system of state monopolies is very outdated, and very inefficient. The other 50 million was most likely spent on litigation.

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822753)

The research for which this patent was granted was THE thing that made modern wireless networking possible. It took radio data transfer from kilobits per second (where it had languished for some time) to a hundred megabits per second. At a time when you were using a 14k modem if you were lucky.

Too bad it was invented in the 1960's. CSIRO's patent amounts to "using COFDM indoors".

From one of the court papers on the subject:
'The trial court found that Rault disclosed several of the limitations of independent claims 42, 56, 68 -- the modulation means, the data reliability enhancement means, and the interleaving means. The district court did not find that Rault anticipated any of the claims, however, because the court found that Rault had failed to disclose the limitation, found in the preamble of each of the independent claims, that referred to the use of the invention "in a confined multipath transmission enviroment." The trial court construed the words "in a confined multipath transmission environment" to mean "in an indoor environment."'

Note that Rault (the author of a paper attempted to be used as prior art) DID address multipath. He just addressed it in the context of a moving vehicle in an urban environment, not an indoor environment".

So CSIROs $200M award was for... moving a radio indoors. (where, BTW, the problem is easier than a moving vehicle in an 'urban canyon'; indoors you have mostly static multipath (some dynamic due to things and people in the environment moving) and no Doppler, outdoors you have dynamic multipath and Doppler.)

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29823027)

This is completely misleading.

The Rault paper was published in 1989, not in the 60's. Less than 4 years before the CSIRO patent was filed. Moreover Rault's techniques, while similar to those being developed at the SAME TIME at CSIRO, were not those that led on to wifi as we know it.

Yes - multiple groups were working in the area at that time; but the CSIRO researchers got there first, built it, made it work, published it, patented it, and it is on THAT RESEARCH that wifi is based.

The Rault paper was put forward as prior art, examined and rejected. I don't know how to put it more simply.

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (2, Interesting)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29824055)

The Rault paper was published in 1989, not in the 60's. Less than 4 years before the CSIRO patent was filed. Moreover Rault's techniques, while similar to those being developed at the SAME TIME at CSIRO, were not those that led on to wifi as we know it.

Yes, the Rault paper (which includes all the techniques in the patent, just not one particular application) was published in 1989, years before the CSIRO patent was filed (it doesn't matter how many years, as long as it's greater than one year). COFDM itself was invented in the 1960s.

The Rault paper was put forward as prior art, examined and rejected. I don't know how to put it more simply.

You've put it too simply. The Rault paper was rejected as prior art because it didn't mention that the same techniques would work indoors. That's an indication that the system is broken, not a testament to the validity of the patent.

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29823303)

First, standards should never be based on patents. This creates an opportunity for this to happen. There are a lot of people who get misled in thinking that since it is a standard they are free to use it. Second, their approach was an obvious solution. I have witnessed on several occasions individuals solving the same problem in much the same manner independently of each other and each having a different level of intelligence. A lot of people have this misconception that they have a gift, whereas each individual is born with the same capabilities as the other. The only thing that changes is the rate in which their physical brain can modify itself in which to further gain intelligence and their desire to persevere. If someone tells you differently then they are that percentage of the world that beats others down so they can retain power since they have either the inability to better themselves, or just too damn lazy to do so. I find it best to describe my point in the following way. A person will claim that since they aren't as good as Michael Jordan then they can never play professional ball, but yet while they know there are other people better at driving a vehicle they will continue to do so. As the population increases it is ever present that the percentage of the population that will have the exact same thought pattern also increases. It is is because of this that they should really think about the possible obviousness of some patent being processed. I miss the days of having to have a physical device that demonstrates your solution. Too many people nowadays can't quite get theirs from paper into something tangible. Third, I would argue the fact that this technology will be around for a long time. I would even bet money that it might be replaced in as little as 2 years. Don't worry it won't be patented so feel free to use it however you will want to. Anyways, I have work to do so piss off mates. =)

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29823331)

I hope CSIRO enjoys not being invited to any more IEEE standards meetings, because that's what the verdict means. The patent wasn't granted until well after the 802.11 standards were set up, so this perfectly matches the "submarine patent" idea - it's Rambus all over again.

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (1)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 4 years ago | (#29831761)

Not quite. CSIRO was granted the patent '96. IEEE 802.11 was released in '97.

The standards comittee and all involved partners knew of the CSIRO patent and requested that they promise not to sue. They didn't promise. The IEEE went ahead anyway. Those that implemented it and did not pay royalties got sued. No submarining involved, only knowledgable parties who happily used but refused to respect the patented technology.

No subterfuge, no trickery, just a bunch of companies not paying royalties to a legitimate patent holder. However slashdot feels about that (I personally think intellectual property is a misnomer, ideas are etheral to start, and common goods of all humanity) the courts tend to frown.

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29824057)

Absolutely correct. Interesting that you had to go AC to post a positive comment about patents.

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29825227)

The patent describes the implementation of a WLAN using OFDM as the transmission mechanism. Given that WLANs and OFDM existed well before 1993, the patent appears to be rather obvious. What exactly is the innovation covered by this patent?

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29831505)

Well, sort of. The intention at the time was a 60GHz WLAN (which a lot or people are working on now), not at 5GHz, or 2.4GHz. Partly that was because a lot of the people involved (the five guys on te patent were just the tip of the iceberg) came from a mm-wave background (especially with respect to antennas), and also for internal politcal reasons since the particular CSIRO division was also trying to get a GaAs pHEMT process off the ground.

But also, the patent should never have been granted. Very similar patents had been granted in 1966 and 1986 (could eb alittle out with those numbers, but not by more than a year or two), plus, other researchers had already beaten CSIRO to OFDM radios by 6 years or more.

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (1)

Zumbs (1241138) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822705)

I'm unsure as to what you mean. Are you bashing patents all together? Or do you think that a private company holding the patents and winning the case in question would stiffle progress less? Or that it is wrong for public organizations to do research?

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (1)

nietsch (112711) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847351)

Yes, patents are bad as a whole. Patents exercised by public institutions are just a disgrace. There was a one time cost for the research, but there should be a 20-year payback because some standards were based on it? Fair would be dedicating the patent after the costs have been recuperated. Otherwise it becomes gamblimg with public money.

Only 0.31% state-funded (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822735)

a state-funded organisation

An organization funded by the government of Australia doesn't take any tax dollars from US citizens or any tax euros from EU-member citizens. So CSIRO is "a state-funded organization" to only 0.31 percent of the world population.

Re:too bad the proceeds came from stifling progres (1)

ozbird (127571) | more than 4 years ago | (#29823287)

Overheard at one of the settlement meetings: "That's not a patent! That's a patent."

What were the alternatives? (3, Insightful)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822485)

What else were they supposed to do with the money? It's not like they have shareholders to support.

Re:What were the alternatives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29822547)

What else were they supposed to do with the money? It's not like they have shareholders to support.

Oh, the usual. Excess state funds get pushed into an account and sit there, until some bureaucrat wants to use the money to bribe his constituents by building some irrelevant structure. Or maybe he needs new carpet in his office.

a "resolution" or "bill" gets passed, and the money gets used for whatever the person in charge feels like squandering it on.

Re:What were the alternatives? (3, Insightful)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 4 years ago | (#29823023)

until some bureaucrat wants to use the money to bribe his constituents

A bureaucrat doesn't have constituents, they just work for a government department. Essentially they just suck up to their bosses in the same way as we do in the private sector.

Re:What were the alternatives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29822699)

True, but the money cold have been put back into any number of fields of research outside of IT that the CSIRO works in. It is significant that they are doing this because the likely beneficiaries of any new technologies that come out of that $150 million worth of research are the very companies that paid them the money to settle the dispute.

Re:What were the alternatives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29822701)

What else were they supposed to do with the money? It's not like they have shareholders to support.

Hookers and blow?

Re:What were the alternatives? (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 4 years ago | (#29827893)

They do have shareholders and they are distributing the wealth to them; there just isn't an explicit shareholder's register. CSIRO is only partly government funded, making the federal government of Australia and by extension the Australian people a shareholder. Other shareholders are companies that fund research cooperatively and take a cut of returns or take on the commercialisation themselves. Like any company the directors are electing to reinvest the income rather than issue a dividend to the Government. It's likely that the previous Government would have demanded a dividend paid into general revenue (a decreed amount and not one tied to actual income) but the current Govt is (I assume) allowing this much more sane use of funds.

What would be interesting to know is how much of the remaining $50M or so went into the pockets of the US legal profession as dead money.

Re:What were the alternatives? (1)

adamkennedy (121032) | more than 4 years ago | (#29830743)

The other place the money could have gone was that the government could have just sucked it all back into "General Revenue".

It's great to see that they left the money inside of the CSIRO.

Research, patent, troll; repeat as desired (-1, Troll)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822621)

And how many lucrative patents will this research yield?

When can we expect the next shakedown?

Help in documenting CSIRO and other troll activities is welcome:

http://en.swpat.org/wiki/CSIRO_wifi_patent [swpat.org]
http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Patent_trolls [swpat.org]
http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Litigation_and_specific_patents [swpat.org]

Re:Research, patent, troll; repeat as desired (3, Insightful)

pelrun (25021) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822845)

Getting royalties on a patent does not make you a patent troll. Buying up patents you didn't invent just to make money off them IS. (There is NO "research, patent, troll" cycle, only a "buy/write trivial patent, wait, troll" one.)

The CSIRO spent money developing the technology in the patents. They're reinvesting the royalties (which are a fucking PITTANCE) back into new research. That's the very opposite of being a patent troll.

Re:Research, patent, troll; repeat as desired (4, Informative)

tick-tock-atona (1145909) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822957)

You're an idiot.

CSIRO's patent which netted it 200 million is not a software patent. It's a hardware patent. Read the patent itself [uspto.gov] (from way back in 1993) if you don't believe me. The word "software" doesn't even appear in it.

This is exactly the way the patent system is supposed to work. It's supposed to encourage innovation and protect investment. What CSIRO is doing is improving the world. Can you imagine the world today if they hadn't done the research and developed the WIFI technology that everyone takes for granted?

It on the public record [timeshighe...tion.co.uk] that they licensed the technology and expected to receive payments. As the court cases showed, the big tech companies just tried to weasel their way out of actually coughing up the cash after taking the technology and incorporating it into their products.

How can you be mad that this cash is going into cutting edge research projects rather than hookers and coke for some executive's next mediterranean cruise?

Re:Research, patent, troll; repeat as desired (2, Interesting)

registrar (1220876) | more than 4 years ago | (#29831391)

This is exactly the way the patent system is supposed to work. It's supposed to encourage innovation and protect investment. What CSIRO is doing is improving the world. Can you imagine the world today if they hadn't done the research and developed the WIFI technology that everyone takes for granted?

Yeah, I can imagine it --- somebody else would have done the research and the world would be basically just the same. If this is an example of how patents are a good thing, I'm not convinced.

There would have been just as much pressure / motivation for wifi without patents: the first laptop to have wifi would have been an enormous hit, and all the competitors would have had to follow.

(FWIW, I'm an Australian scientist and taxpayer. I have plenty of respect for the CSIRO, and I'm happy to see them land 200 million. But I'd much rather fund them through taxes than have a massive patent system.)

Re:Research, patent, troll; repeat as desired (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29831887)

There would have been just as much pressure / motivation for wifi without patents: the first laptop to have wifi would have been an enormous hit, and all the competitors would have had to license the technology for a trivial fee or reverse engineer/recreate the technology at great expense.

FTFY.

Re:Research, patent, troll; repeat as desired (1)

Pseudonym (62607) | more than 4 years ago | (#29831929)

But I'd much rather fund them through taxes than have a massive patent system.

Then write to your MP, asking them to increase funding for the CSIRO (throw in all othe other agencies such as ACIAR, AIMS, ANSTO, NMI, Geoscience Australia and NICTA while you're at it) so that they don't have to rely on patent licensing and commercial spinoffs.

(Disclaimer: I work for one of those agencies, though not the CSIRO.)

Re:Research, patent, troll; repeat as desired (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822969)

A software patents wiki, and you're rambling on about a patent on radio signalling schemes on it. Bravo, sir.

Re:Research, patent, troll; repeat as desired (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29823153)

And how many lucrative patents will this research yield?

From an organization that invents real technology and licenses it very cheaply to everybody? Hopefully a lot.

When can we expect the next shakedown?

The next time the megalomaniacs of intellectual property like Microsoft and Apple think they can pilfer legitimate IP from others at will, hopefully!

Help in documenting CSIRO and other troll activities is welcome:

Why yes, I'd like to document some troll activity!

Typical (3, Funny)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#29822723)

The greed! First they get lots of money, then they go and put it to good so as to deprive me of being able to indignantly call them out for their immoral ways. The government can never do anything right!

Re:Typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29823021)

The greed! First they get lots of money, then they go and put it to good so as to deprive me of being able to indignantly call them out for their immoral ways. The government can never do anything right!

I know, it's horrible how these billion dollar multinational companies are being forced to pay money to use technology they chose to impliment. I mean it's a non profit organisation that provided the research and proof of concept for this and many other technologies such as gene shears and the aircraft microwave landing system, where does it have the nerve asking for royalties?

Those bludging Aussie tax payers should pay us for the privileged of supporting our huge conglomerate corporations.

Re:Typical (1)

tick-tock-atona (1145909) | more than 4 years ago | (#29823033)

Yeah, look at what comes out of socialised science!

US citizens are right to be afraid of Obama's socialist^w public health option.

Re:Typical (1)

H0D_G (894033) | more than 4 years ago | (#29823347)

US citizens aren't being asked. In fact, US citizens are not at all relevant to this discussion- the CSIRO is an AUSTRALIAN organisation.

And good for them, the more money they get, the greater likelihood they'll be hiring, and the greater likelihood I'll be able to get a job when I've finished University.

Re:Typical (1)

quink (141554) | more than 4 years ago | (#29831459)

Socialised science came up with an amazing collection of things that probably keep you alive and fed today... so if you don't like it, go back to eating pesticide-ridden food and having planes crash all over your suburb.... two things the rest of the world can avoid because of the CSIRO.

That's your right, just as it's your right to delude yourself and keep paying insurance companies through the nose for your so-called existing health "scheme" that costs about twice as much out of your GDP as the "socialist" public health schemes elsewhere, and leaves about 40% of your population copping the Bessy Smith treatment regime in your hospitals. So much for "efficiency" and "competition".

Stay pure. Buy more Enron shares, soon as you can.

       

Re:Typical (1)

sincewhen (640526) | more than 4 years ago | (#29831417)

I think this re-investment is just a ploy to develop more technology and patent it.

Then, they'll expect to get paid when others use that new technology.

These guys have got to be the worst patent trolls ever!

Good for them (2, Insightful)

cbope (130292) | more than 4 years ago | (#29823681)

All I can say is good for them. They developed a core piece of technology and have re-invested for the future. As another poster already mentioned, this is the way the patent system should work. Now, if only the damn patent trolls would wake up, stop their frivolous lawsuits and coercion tactics and actually invent something instead of profiteering off of other companies investments by buying up patents, we would be getting somewhere. Unfortunately, the current patent environment in the US won't let this happen.

Re:Good for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29824071)

They developed a core piece of technology and have re-invested for the future.

If we're really lucky, one of these new grants will result in them developing something equally spectacular.

Disclaimer: one of my supervisors works for CSIRO, although not in the wireless networking division.

You deserver more money, CSIRO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29833119)

I think the CSIRO deserve every penny. Though I wouldn't want them to go Microsoft on us all.

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