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Australian WiFi Inventors Win US Legal Battle

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the piece-of-the-pie dept.

Australia 193

First time accepted submitter Kangburra writes "Australian government science body CSIRO said Sunday it had won a multi-million-dollar legal settlement in the United States to license its patented technology that underpins the WiFi platform worldwide. Scientists from the agency invented the wireless local area network (WLAN) technology that is the basis of the WiFi signal employed by computers, smartphones and other Internet-ready devices around the world."

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okay they won (4, Funny)

heptapod (243146) | about 2 years ago | (#39543715)

What's next? Crocodile Dundee doing a commercial for CSIRO saying "That's not a wireless router. THAT'S a wireless router."

Way to promote cultural stereotypes (4, Insightful)

qirtaiba (582509) | more than 2 years ago | (#39545325)

25 years later, your first thought about Australia is still Crocodile Dundee? Kinda offensive. Next time there's a story on an American patent owner, should my first post say "What's next? Uncle Sam going to whistle Yankee Doodle Dandy while eating a Big Mac?"

Re:Way to promote cultural stereotypes (1)

Kryptonian Jor-El (970056) | more than 2 years ago | (#39545389)

Would you prefer he have quoted Kangaroo Jack?

Re:Way to promote cultural stereotypes (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39545429)

I would prefer he quote Henry Lawson from "The Sign of the Old Black Eye", far more applicable.

Re:Way to promote cultural stereotypes (2)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#39545483)

That's progress for ya. At least he didn't mention that it's still just a colony of convicts.

Re:Way to promote cultural stereotypes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39545559)

Just calm down, pop open a cool Fosters, and toss some more shrimp on the barbie, mate.

Break Out The Australian Sparkling White Wine (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39543725)

This is a major cause for celebration.
 
Remember folks, this is a RESEARCH ORGANIZATION, these funds will be mostly plowed back into further research.
 
Also it makes for a good case-in-point, it doesn't matter WHO did the work or WHERE their funding comes from, a valid patent is a valid patent.

Re:Break Out The Australian Sparkling White Wine (5, Insightful)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 years ago | (#39543751)

Remember folks, this is PATENT LAWSUIT, these funds will be mostly plowed back into the legal firms that filed the suit.

Re:Break Out The Australian Sparkling White Wine (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39543789)

The CSIRO is actually a government funded research institute. They are known as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

Re:Break Out The Australian Sparkling White Wine (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39543837)

I think you miss the point. Those lawyers cost money and any law firm will charge a non-trivial amount of the settlement as their payment for legal services rendered.

Re:Break Out The Australian Sparkling White Wine (2)

Holi (250190) | about 2 years ago | (#39544017)

Most likely this government group has in house representation thus there really is no external law firm to siphon off large amounts of cash.

Re:Break Out The Australian Sparkling White Wine (2)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#39544071)

A research arm of the Government of Australia has In-House lawyers in the US?

Possible, but not likely. Patent law is a highly specialized field in the US.

Re:Break Out The Australian Sparkling White Wine (1)

redback (15527) | more than 2 years ago | (#39545375)

I bet they patent a lot of stuff though.

Re:Break Out The Australian Sparkling White Wine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39544885)

i think you're all missing the point.
the only real result of this is going to be your next device being just that much more expensive.

then why isn't it free? (0)

decora (1710862) | about 2 years ago | (#39544379)

taxpayers pay for this government research, everyone who pays taxes pays for it. why isn't it free then?

Re:then why isn't it free? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39545307)

Because none of these Amercian Corporations that have been using the patent unlicensed paid any Australian Taxes for the research.

Re:Break Out The Australian Sparkling White Wine (5, Informative)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about 2 years ago | (#39543875)

Actually, not too likely. The CSIRO [csiro.au] is one of the few genuine research and development companies out there. The research they do is very useful to many Australians - and they do a considerable amount of work assisting third world countries with farming, food production and water sanitation. While they are taxpayer funded (being a government organisation), a good part of their research dollars come from patents on stuff they come up with. In this case, this is a patent that has been recognised by almost all the companies that make products with it as this snippet from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] explains:

In late November 2007, CSIRO won a lawsuit against Buffalo Technology, with an injunction that Buffalo must stop supplying AirStation products that infringe on the 802.11 patent.

On 19 September 2008, the Federal Circuit ruled in Buffalo’s favour and remanded the case to the district court ruling that the district court’s Summary Judgement was insufficient on the merits of obviousness of CSIRO’s patent. Therefore, this case was to be tried again before the district court. In this connection Buffalo was hopeful that it would shortly be permitted to, once again, sell IEEE 802.11a and 802.11g compliant products in the United States. On 13 July 2009 Buffalo announced the settlement of the patent infringement action.

As of 23 April 2009, the CSIRO has obtained settlements from most of the other organisations involved, including Dell, Intel, Microsoft, Asus, Fujitsu, Hewlett Packard, Nintendo, Toshiba, Netgear, D-Link, Belkin, SMC, Accton and 3Com.

Furthermore, even this article on WIFI on Wikipedia has very explanatory [wikipedia.org] information:

A large number of patents by many companies are used in 802.11 standard. In 1992 and 1996, Australian organisation the CSIRO obtained patents for a method later used in Wi-Fi to "unsmear" the signal. In April 2009, 14 tech companies agreed to pay CSIRO for infringements on the CSIRO patents. This lead to WiFi being attributed as an Australian invention.

Re:Break Out The Australian Sparkling White Wine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39544241)

Not sure but the diet book sounds like the popular diet fads from the late 60s and early 70s. As for 802.11 most of that work came from COMTEN through NCR as a productb(quite successful) called WAVELAN. Doesn't sound like this research company does much more than read old diet books and NCR manuals. Check this link for more details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WaveLAN

Re:Break Out The Australian Sparkling White Wine (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 years ago | (#39544357)

Thats for re-iterating what was already mentioned in the article. That doesn't mean the lawyers won't take a big fat chunk of the millions. I doubt the law firm was a generous government organisation. My google foo only provided a list of CSIRO legal costs for 2000-2006. All costs were listed except the wireless patent litigation, which was marked as "Legal in confidence" with some texas law firm.

Re:Break Out The Australian Sparkling White Wine (4, Funny)

haruchai (17472) | about 2 years ago | (#39544393)

Pffft. Since it's been clearly established that government is incapable of doing anything right, there's no way this is legitimate work by CSIRO. They must have stolen the IP from Hedy Lamarr and is using it to browbeat good old American job creators into given up their hard-earned wealth. Bloody Aussie socialists.

Re:Break Out The Australian Sparkling White Wine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39544971)

They must have stolen the IP from Hedy Lamarr and is using it to browbeat good old American job creators into given up their hard-earned wealth. Bloody Aussie socialists.

Hedley!!!

Re:Break Out The Australian Sparkling White Wine (3, Informative)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 2 years ago | (#39544911)

a good part of their research dollars come from patents on stuff they come up with

That might be overstating it a little, CSIRO's income from IP:
2006-7 30.6M
2007-8 81.7M
2008-9 229.6M
2009-10 46.7M
2010-11 29.2M

For 2010-11 income from IP was only ~2% of their total revenue.
2008-9 was a big year, making about 20% of their revenue and includes the $205 million settlement from a previous WiFi case.

Which isn't to say that CSIRO should not bother chasing IP revenue, obviously it can be very rewarding.

Re:Break Out The Australian Sparkling White Wine (0)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 2 years ago | (#39545225)

It seems to me that SCIRO is extremely talented at sucking money out of other companies for barely patentable ideas. Of course, it's not their fault that the system is just begging for patent trolls. IBM has done about as much patent trolling as any company to date, even though they're better known for innovation.

I don't doubt that SCIRO had some inventions in the wifi space, but as I recall RadioLan was just about the first company to make anything of it, and even before that, the gigabit networking group at DEC had already written BSD drivers that allowed their geeks to roam about the complex while automatically switching to the nearest WAP. At QuickLogic, I got to meet some early innovators in wifi (including the RadioLan guys), because back then they needed our fast FPGAs, which were fast for the time. I can't recall a single mention of anything from Australia, but of course, we were all too busy turning wifi into something useful to notice the credits on the various inventions that were naturally being accidentally stepped on.

Re:Break Out The Australian Sparkling White Wine (4, Insightful)

cheater512 (783349) | about 2 years ago | (#39544141)

Yeah well thats the fault of the bloody US companies, not the CSIRO.
Some money is better than none for a research organisation.

Re:Break Out The Australian Sparkling White Wine (-1, Troll)

poetmatt (793785) | about 2 years ago | (#39544057)

this is comedy.

Why don't I pull a line from the article which shows why these patents aren't even valid:

They overcame it by building a fast chip that could transmit a signal while reducing the echo, beating many of the major communications companies around the world that were trying to solve the same issue.

so: they are not the only ones to have "invented WILAN". Of course they used money from other patent shakedowns to fuel these US lawsuits for further shakedowns. Way to go, CSIRO. Ethics out the window.

Re:Break Out The Australian Sparkling White Wine (1)

jimmetry (1801872) | about 2 years ago | (#39544407)

It was still their technology that formed the basis of future development. As long as that technology is non-trivial, it's worth fighting for.

Re:Break Out The Australian Sparkling White Wine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39544605)

This is a major cause for celebration.

Remember folks, this is a RESEARCH ORGANIZATION, these funds will be mostly plowed back into further research.

Also it makes for a good case-in-point, it doesn't matter WHO did the work or WHERE their funding comes from, a valid patent is a valid patent.

unless you have evidence to the contrary I wouldn't assume this to be the case. It might just go to consolidated revenue.

Re:Break Out The Australian Sparkling White Wine (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39545523)

A patent lawsuit is almost never a cause for celebration. This case is no exception.

Good! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39543737)

The CSIRO isn't your typical patent troll. They do serious R&D on all sorts of things: environment, solar, agriculture, minerals, you name it. They're very well respected in Australia for the research they do.

The money from this win will go towards funding more research. These are the good guys; if they have a patent for something, it will be more than your typical "XOR for a visible cursor that doesn't interfere with the display" job.

Re:Good! (1, Troll)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | about 2 years ago | (#39544113)

Well, they certainly have made major advances in the field of astroturfing.

Re:Good! (4, Informative)

Now15 (9715) | more than 2 years ago | (#39545095)

Indeed they have.

"Ozturf grasses have been scientifically tested by the CSIRO for strength and long term ultraviolet stability."
(http://www.ozturf.com.au/products.html)

Re:Good! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39545549)

Amongst Australians, especially anyone interested in science, the CSIRO is the most highly regarded organisation within the country, and through its previous incarnations has been involved in almost all scientific endeavours. For many Australian's the CSIRO is somewhat analogous to NASA, except that it is more practical.

Re:Good! (0)

wshs (602011) | more than 2 years ago | (#39544737)

I would have to say this is patent trolling. They waited until the technology was global before pursuing litigation. There is no reason to have waited this long unless the only motive was profit.

Re:Good! (5, Informative)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 2 years ago | (#39544855)

Nope, the CSIRO has done everything possible. They've been attempting good-faith licensing terms for years and getting rebuffed with "fuck off back Down Under, Aussie, you're dealing with the big boys now". They developed a technology that we all depend on and have been trying to get recognition of that fact for years.

I'm a nerd and I fucking hate patent trolls, but I'm applauding the CSIRO. They're the good guys in this fight.

I have no knowledge of what is patented by this (0)

Fireking300 (1852630) | about 2 years ago | (#39543741)

I have no knowledge of what is patented by this company but wouldn't you want to stop the patent infringement when other companies are using it? Why did they wait for it to be adapted and ingrained within our society for so long.

Re:I have no knowledge of what is patented by this (5, Informative)

jaymz666 (34050) | about 2 years ago | (#39543767)

This lawsuit began years ago. They began suing people in 2005.

Re:I have no knowledge of what is patented by this (5, Informative)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | about 2 years ago | (#39543931)

They began suing people in 2005.

After, I believe, substantial attempts to get people to negotiate licences without involving a court.

Re:I have no knowledge of what is patented by this (5, Informative)

Namarrgon (105036) | about 2 years ago | (#39543939)

And long before that, they were trying to negotiate patent fees with the various vendors, but were ignored. The lawsuits were the last resort, and have mostly ended in the vendors settling. Revenues have been rolled back into a fund for future research. Read more here [smh.com.au] .

Re:I have no knowledge of what is patented by this (3, Informative)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about 2 years ago | (#39543891)

They didn't wait for it to be adapted as such. A large majority of manufacturers rightfully accept the patents involved. See this comment I posted above [slashdot.org] for a more detailed explanation.

Re:I have no knowledge of what is patented by this (5, Informative)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | about 2 years ago | (#39544127)

As I understand it the Slashdot article is (predictably) rather misleading. The technology involved isn't wifi per se but a clever signal processing method used in newer wifi standards (IE 802.11 N). IIRC it's the bit which allows signals recieved at multiple antennas to be used in a way that identifies multiple distinct signals coming from different directions at the same time (an increasingly important feature as the the number of devices explodes).

It also demonstrates some of the benefits of a cross-specialisation science organisation like the CSIRO. IIRC the original idea was come up with (and used) by someone at CSIRO working in radio astronomy. More commercial uses were identified and they sought to commercialise it by licencing it to anyone who could make use of it.

This is not the case of a patent troll buying some patent and belatedly wielding it as a weapon in an established market nor a company leveraging a patent to hurt competitors. It's a genuine invention that they tried to licence but ultimately had to go to court over because the Wifi companies (perhaps not used to dealing with entities outside their patent clique) refused to licence.

Re:I have no knowledge of what is patented by this (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39544923)

As I understand it the Slashdot article is (predictably) rather misleading. The technology involved isn't wifi per se but a clever signal processing method used in newer wifi standards (IE 802.11 N).

They claim their patents cover the older 802.11a, too.

Somebody shake that mans hand (5, Informative)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | about 2 years ago | (#39543775)

It's sad to see how much effort they had to go through. This case is EXACTLY what patents are for: a bunch of scientists did some research and patented the results - companies took their results and made commercial products out of that and believed they could get away with not paying any kind of royalty or license fee.

The vast majority of this money will go back into further research, slowly making the world a better place.

For those who care to know (PDF): Their Most Recent Annual Report [csiro.au] .

Re:Somebody shake that mans hand (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39543839)

Note: This argument does not apply to American research.

Re:Somebody shake that mans hand (0)

afaik_ianal (918433) | about 2 years ago | (#39543877)

No-one has any problem with this applying to actual American research. We just disagree on whether or not thinking up a trivial solution to a problem, or marrying two obvious technologies on some idle Tuesday afternoon counts as research.

Re:Somebody shake that mans hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39544565)

Your disagreement is irrelevant to the article at hand.

The invention that was patented is neither trivial or obvious.

Re:Somebody shake that mans hand (1)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 2 years ago | (#39545001)

I never said otherwise, and agree this patent is the result of a significant research.

I was replying to a post, which has since been modded "troll" suggesting there was some sort of double standard, anti-American sentiment going on here.

Re:Somebody shake that mans hand (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 2 years ago | (#39543841)

A bunch of scientists took government funds through a government owned facility, did research, created new technologies, and patented it. That means the government subsequently owns the patent, and not a private institution or individual. I thought there was some kind of clause in most patent laws that exempted governments from being able to own patents. You release it into the public domain, companies use it, make money off of it, and you recoup the expenses in increased tax revenue. If the patent is worthwhile, you're not supposed to need the licensing fees.

Re:Somebody shake that mans hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39543881)

CSIRO is the government.... They use the money to fund more government research...

This isn't scientists making some money, this is to fund the blue sky research to invent the next technology.

Re:Somebody shake that mans hand (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 2 years ago | (#39543919)

What I'm saying is that I didn't think governments were allowed to own patents. I thought any such research immediately entered public domain. Although a brief search through various US national laboratories shows we patent our own stuff just the same.

Re:Somebody shake that mans hand (3, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#39544105)

Australia != US.

Re:Somebody shake that mans hand (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 2 years ago | (#39544171)

we patent our own stuff just the same as the Australians .

I sort of thought that bit was implied.

Re:Somebody shake that mans hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39544189)

Implies, Lisa? Or implode?

Re:Somebody shake that mans hand (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39544133)

So us Australians should put all our [taxpayers] research that we funded into the public domain for other countries to use for free?
How about copyrights? if the US designs the next advanced fighter, should get the designs, blueprints and source code go into the public domain?

Re:Somebody shake that mans hand (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39544295)

So us Australians should put all our [taxpayers] research that we funded into the public domain for other countries to use for free?
How about copyrights? if the US designs the next advanced fighter, should get the designs, blueprints and source code go into the public domain?

You must be new here. On slashdot it is a well known fact that patents are evil because they stifle innovation. Patents effectively allow the original inventors who poured years of their lives and millions of dollars into developing their ideas to unfairly monopolize their own inventions and make money off of them. The same basically goes for copyrights. Piracy causes no economic harm to anybody, ever (despite recent reports of NewsCorp bankrupting ITV Digital by sponsoring piracy).

Re:Somebody shake that mans hand (5, Insightful)

RobHart (70431) | about 2 years ago | (#39543971)

If you look at the list of companies that were sued (and have settled), you will notice that none of them is an Australian company. It was Australian tax payer dollars that funded this research (and the patenting process), so just how does the Australian government tax all those non-Australain companies??? The ONLY way to do it is with patents so that the companies making money from the technology in many countries around the world pay a part of their profits back to the inventors.

As has been said, the CSIRO will use this money to fund further research - such as the "pure" radio astronomy work which resulted in this spin off piece of technology in the first place!

RobHart

Re:Somebody shake that mans hand (0)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#39544115)

CSIRO's lawyers will use the money for yachts.

Re:Somebody shake that mans hand (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39545425)

You mean the lawyers which shouldn't have been necessary in the first place, if the CSIRO was paid royalties on their valid patent?

Re:Somebody shake that mans hand (3, Insightful)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 2 years ago | (#39544671)

It seems difficult to make the case that the best thing for the Australian Government to do would be to enter the patent into the public domain. As far as return on investment (ie Australian taxpayers money) goes licencing the product to the world seems a far better idea than giving it away and hoping for some tangential return in Australian tax revenue.

While the global population is so much larger than the Australian population it is a no-brainer.

Who picks these "standards" anyway? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39543785)

Can we get future standards that *DON'T* have a troll waiting to collect $$$? I thought any standard promoted by IEEE and like organizations had to be patent free. Wouldn't that be the best solution for everybody?

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (4, Informative)

black3d (1648913) | about 2 years ago | (#39543833)

It's nothing to do with "standards" at all. It's solely about technology which makes wifi work indoors without signal echo. They came up with the solution to the issue, patented it, then everyone else adapted it without licensing the technology. This is actually a perfect usage of patent and exactly what it's for.

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (-1, Flamebait)

russotto (537200) | about 2 years ago | (#39544053)

It's nothing to do with "standards" at all. It's solely about technology which makes wifi work indoors without signal echo. They came up with the solution to the issue, patented it, then everyone else adapted it without licensing the technology.

Except that's not actually what happened. They wrote a patent broad enough to cover existing technology (OFDM) and got the courts to buy it.

(and to anticipate one of the usual pro-patent lines, no, they do not deserve a patent for describing a wireless LAN based on OFDM, when both wireless LANs and OFDM were pre-existing)

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (1)

black3d (1648913) | about 2 years ago | (#39544161)

Except, nobody else got it to work. If I make a combustion engine which runs on phlegm, I'm not exempt from a patent because both engines and phlegm already exist. They didn't merely describe it, they created the technology, and got it to work where nobody else did. If it was that "obvious", why had no other manufacturer previously solved the issues? Fact is, most manufacturers have accepted this patent. Some fought it in court, and all eventually settled or lost. It's legitimate.

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (1)

russotto (537200) | about 2 years ago | (#39544269)

Except, nobody else got it to work.

Lots of others got it to work. CSIRO claims cover their work as well.

Fact is, most manufacturers have accepted this patent.

After fighting it tooth and nail for many years.

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (2)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 2 years ago | (#39544973)

After fighting it tooth and nail for many years.

If the patent has so much prior art, and nothing is original, why weren't the combined efforts of intel, microsoft, and a bunch of hardware vendors lawyers able to get the patent rejected?

Either you think the legal teams of all said large companies are incompetent, or the item in question had unique properties.

Considering not only were they first to patent, but also the first to have working silicon... I think I know which I'd go with.

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (1)

KinnearP (683065) | about 2 years ago | (#39543867)

What has standards got to do with it? This is a physical tech patent. Sure - every other manufacturer out there could make wlan which DOESN'T work indoors, but what would be the point? The altenative is LOS networking which means no mobile devices.

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39543935)

Since when is the CSIRO a patent troll?

You really are a dumb piece of shit or a dumb piece of shit failure of a troll. Either way you are a dumb piece of shit

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39544223)

Wow. Are you under 10 years old or something? Calling names and swearing - yup that's real adult like. I'd hate to actually be forced to have a conversation with someone like you.

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39544263)

If you were the OP then frankly you only understand 10 year old and less

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (4, Interesting)

black3d (1648913) | about 2 years ago | (#39543991)

PS. CSIRO isn't a "troll". It's the research organization which actually invented this tech, and have been trying to license it for the last decade. They've reached agreements with over 30 major manufacturers for prior licensing. This is about as far from "patent troll" as you can get. Real patent trolls - compaines who acquire patents and sit on them for years waiting for tech to be adopted so they can then sue everyone, deserve your disdain. CSIRO doesn't.

The only reason it's taken so long to get success for its patents is because it's in Australia - many US companies simply ignore patents from international companies because the cost of suing someone in the US is generally too high if you're overseas. US companies willfully ignore thousands of original invention patents originating internationally. Another great example is Franmara's "Champagne Xpress". It's a champagne bottle opener which was invented by a New Zealander, Bryce Stewart. It was patented in the US in 2003. Franmara CEO Frank Chiorazzi asked for a sample of the invention, then offered Bryce $2500 to license it. The offer was flatly refused - nevertheless, Franmara began manufacturing and selling them in the US. They're now popularly used in restaurants nationwide. The original inventor doesn't get see a cent of the procedes from his invention or patent, and it's very difficult for a NZer to procede with a lawsuit against a major US company, despite obvious patent theft.

Realise, patent theft does occur, and trolls are not always the victims. In both cases above, the original inventors are, still holders of their original patents.

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (0, Troll)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 years ago | (#39544305)

Yes they are a troll. One of the main characteristics of patent trolls is that they do not manufacture anything associated with the patents they own so you can't countersue them for infringement of your own patents in the same field.

Their only income from their inventions comes from suing other people or licensing fees extorted by threatening to sue.

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39544513)

No, they aren't trolls. I'll concur that what you've described is one of the characteristics. Another is that patent trolling companies don't do much, if any, research of their own: they buy patents from other companies, and use them to extort payments.

The CSIRO is a research organisation. They've done some incredibly valuable work in a great many fields; their attitude is one of licensing their R&D to commercial companies for commercialisation, rather than doing it themselves. It's a system that has worked very well for over eighty years. The fact that they don't manufacture things themselves does not, in and of itself, make them a patent troll.

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (3, Interesting)

DeSigna (522207) | more than 2 years ago | (#39544921)

Their only income from their inventions comes from suing other people or licensing fees extorted by threatening to sue.

No, they aren't trolls. I'll concur that what you've described is one of the characteristics. Another is that patent trolling companies don't do much, if any, research of their own: they buy patents from other companies, and use them to extort payments.

The CSIRO is a research organisation. They've done some incredibly valuable work in a great many fields; their attitude is one of licensing their R&D to commercial companies for commercialisation, rather than doing it themselves. It's a system that has worked very well for over eighty years. The fact that they don't manufacture things themselves does not, in and of itself, make them a patent troll.

In addition, it is worth noting (from the Annual Report) that only ~2% of CSIRO funding comes from intellectual property licensing. Roughly 60% is from the Federal Government and 34% from public, private and foreign co-investments and joint research projects.

It is satisfying to see this finally come to an end; I was recently trying to find what had come of this court case without much luck. I was still a teenager back in the early 2000s when I heard of the CSIRO starting to seek licensing of their radio patents.

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39545125)

One of the biggest patent trolls in the world is acknowledged to be Intellectual Ventures. And they do original research of their own too.

http://www.intellectualventures.com/Home.aspx [intellectualventures.com]

Doing original research isn't sufficient to escape being considered a patent troll.

As far as income, IV gets a lot from the companies that have bought a stake in their operations. They aren't solely funded by patent income either.

Now CSIRO may be a research organization. But this business model of turning government funding into lawsuits around the world is patent trolling. Sorry if you don't like it, but that's the way it is.

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (3, Insightful)

Pseudonym (62607) | more than 2 years ago | (#39545299)

Now CSIRO may be a research organization. But this business model of turning government funding into lawsuits around the world is patent trolling. Sorry if you don't like it, but that's the way it is.

OK, so let's turn the question around. You're in charge of the CSIRO, an Australian government-funded research and development arm. What would you have done differently?

The central problem here is that the term "patent troll" doesn't have a universally agreed-upon definition.

Wikipedia lists these qualities that a patent troll generally has:

Purchases a patent, often from a bankrupt firm, and then sues another company by claiming that one of its products infringes on the purchased patent;
Enforces patents against purported infringers without itself intending to manufacture the patented product or supply the patented service;
Enforces patents but has no manufacturing or research base;
Focuses its efforts solely on enforcing patent rights; or
Asserts patent infringement claims against non-copiers or against a large industry that is composed of non-copiers.

Of these, the CSIRO can be legitimately accused of at most one, and even that one isn't clear.

Doing original research isn't sufficient to escape being considered a patent troll.

Not every non-practicing entity who sues over patent infringement is automatically a patent troll, either.

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (3, Insightful)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 2 years ago | (#39545369)

One of the biggest patent trolls in the world is acknowledged to be Intellectual Ventures. And they do original research of their own too.

Agreed.

Doing original research isn't sufficient to escape being considered a patent troll.

Also true.

As far as income, IV gets a lot from the companies that have bought a stake in their operations. They aren't solely funded by patent income either.

Also true.

Now CSIRO may be a research organization. But this business model of turning government funding into lawsuits around the world is patent trolling. Sorry if you don't like it, but that's the way it is.

Here you go astray. You pointed out many similaries between IV and CSIRO, but failed to note the major differences.

This quote from Wikipedia shows the major difference (emphasis added):

Investigative journalism suggests that the company makes most of its income from lawsuits and licensing of already-existing inventions, rather than from its own innovation. Intellectual Ventures has been described as a "patent troll" by Shane Robison, CTO of Hewlett Packard and others, allegedly accumulating patents not in order to develop products around them but with the goal to pressure large companies into paying licensing fees.

I argue that a company is a patent troll if they are suing others using patents for technology they neither invented nor use. Basically patent trolling is the use of patents purchased from third parties for the sole purpose of suing other companies. Either invention or real use of the patent in question is enough to keep you from being categorized as a patent troll.

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (2)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 2 years ago | (#39545567)

One of the biggest patent trolls in the world is acknowledged to be Intellectual Ventures. And they do original research of their own too.

But Intellectual Ventures buy patents too. That is the part that makes people call them a patent troll.

The CSIRO did invent this patent to solve a very real problem, and the technology was then used in the WiFi standards. They didn't just sit back and wait for other people to have the same idea so they could sue them (like patent trolls do). They actively promoted it to various companies/organisations.

As far as I am concerned, this is the patent system working as it was designed. The only problem that I have is with this that I don't think that this government organisation should be run as a business. The CSIRO do some amazing science that will never reap any rewards (eg. astronomy). They do this to make the world a better place. The WiFi patents should have been the same thing - something to make the world a better place.

The only argument against this is that it becomes unfair on the competing commercial companies that may make a other patents to achieve a similar outcome. It is hard to compete when the government funded opposition gives it all away. While I can have some sympathy for this argument, if it comes down to a choice between making the world a better place and allowing big companies to make large profits, then I will take the former option.

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39545573)

I suggest you look up 'troll' and compare it to 'inventor'. They don't mean the same thing at all.

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39544697)

heya,

Well, in a bit of luck for the "little guy", it seems there may be good news for the champagne cork opener guy:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/6667488/Kiwi-inventor-wins-champagne-patent-battle
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10795728

If what's written in those articles is true, it sounds like the American companies were real dicks - asking for a sample to "evaluate", offering him a paltry $2500 for unlimited use, then when they got turned down going to find his Chinese manufacturer, and attempting to steal his product.

Cheers,
Victor

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (3, Interesting)

victorhooi (830021) | more than 2 years ago | (#39544707)

heya,

Well, in a bit of luck for the "little guy", it seems there may be good news for the champagne cork opener guy:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/6667488/Kiwi-inventor-wins-champagne-patent-battle [stuff.co.nz]
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10795728 [nzherald.co.nz]

If what's written in those articles is true, it sounds like the American companies were real dicks - asking for a sample to "evaluate", offering him a paltry $2500 for unlimited use, then when they got turned down going to find his Chinese manufacturer, and attempting to steal his product.

Cheers,
Victor

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (2)

black3d (1648913) | more than 2 years ago | (#39544799)

Yeah, he's won the court action in New Zealand - which unfortunately has no effect on sales of the product in the US at all. It's just an example to illustrate the point though. OP was making out that inventors actually standing up for their rights makes them "patent trolls". While patent trolls do exist, that doesn't mean that every time an inventor sues someone, they're "trolling". :)

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39544883)

many US companies simply ignore patents from international companies because the cost of suing someone in the US is generally too high if you're overseas.

Do kiwis have the patent on 'extrapolate one obscure datapoint to generalise millions'?

You managed to show one alleged example, in the field of cork removal, something which is about as high tech as a buggy whip. It doesn't say much for NZ if the US frequently ignores your patents and that's the best you can come up with. I guess there just isn't much original research going on.

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (1)

black3d (1648913) | more than 2 years ago | (#39544955)

As I'm not a kiwi, not sure how I'd test that. It was fresh on my mind as I'd read it recently, however I'm certain a quick Googling could find you some others, as I likewise have read hundreds of such cases throughout the years. Even as a singular example, while you describe it as "high tech as a buggy whip", you'd have to admit that if Franmara actually had to get a physical example of it in order to rip it off, the method isn't as obvious as you'd first believe.

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (1)

godglike (643670) | more than 2 years ago | (#39545547)

"spent eight years slaving over a bottle opener that quickly and neatly extracts all the cork along with the wire restraint and foil wrapping from a champagne bottle."

Hardly sounds like an easy job, or much like a buggy whip.

By the way, NZ law specifically excludes inventions that have been patented elsewhere, so patenting 'extrapolate one obscure datapoint to generalise millions' is probably blocked by the yankee precedent.

Re:Who picks these "standards" anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39543993)

The thing is, CSIRO is not a troll. They actually spent lots of money and lots of time doing research and, wait for it... INVENTED THE DAMN THING!

Obligatory (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39543817)

o/` o/` This was a triumph ... o/` o/`

Re:Obligatory (2)

perlchild (582235) | about 2 years ago | (#39544347)

The real triumph is that a US court actually recognized any patent from outside the US as binding US companies.
Anything else has already been done.

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39544781)

Nonsense, that happens all the time

Re:Obligatory (2)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#39544937)

A US court did no such thing. This was a settlement.

Re:Obligatory (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39544975)

As far as I understand, either there is agrement between US and Australia to recognize each other's patents, or this was a US patent.

That's not a Lawsuit..... (3, Interesting)

ihaveamo (989662) | about 2 years ago | (#39543851)

Wifi? That's nothing!. For REAL world-changing Aussie IT, look no further than Product Activation! [wikipedia.org] ,
which won a massive $388 million payout (Mostly from from Microsoft). And then lost. And then won again, and then lost again, and then a sorta 25% win or something..

I mean, come on!. Imagine life WITHOUT product activation. Microsoft products just wouldn't "feel" the same. It's the core technology of their whole solution!

Re:That's not a Lawsuit..... (1)

Namarrgon (105036) | about 2 years ago | (#39543969)

That's Ric Richardson? Huh. I bought my first Amiga from that guy, back in '86.

FIrst April Fags Ptos of the day (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39543855)

FAGS

A dingo ate my access point! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39543863)

Theiving australians are at it again!

Jokes over (0)

rossdee (243626) | about 2 years ago | (#39544159)

Its already 2nd April in Australia

The Bottom Line (1, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 2 years ago | (#39544585)

The bottom line in all of this is that you're WiFi devices are now a bit more expensive than before. Would be nicer to have worldwide standards that aren't patent encumbered.

Re:The Bottom Line (2)

Sabriel (134364) | more than 2 years ago | (#39544997)

Would be nicer, yes. But until then, at least this time the scientists who did the work will get paid for it.

Re:The Bottom Line (2)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#39545237)

In this particular case, CSIRO actually did invent a bunch of non-obvious stuff crucial to WiFi. So while their royalties will make the devices slightly more expensive, you're erring by comparing to a hypothetical world in which they didn't have a patent on this stuff. The proper comparison is to a world in which WiFi didn't exist or was delayed by years because nobody was willing to do research they did.

110 yards? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#39544779)

Australian WiFi Inventors Win US Legal Battle

What is there something different about Australian Wi-Fi? Why doesn't the headline say, "WiFi inventors win US legal battle"?

Maybe it's like Canadian football vs American football, where it's almost exactly the same except for some subtle differences that you wouldn't notice unless you were really paying attention.

So what is it? Are these the guys that invented WiFi or did they invent Australian WiFi? Please don't make me read the article. I'm already past due for my Sunday afternoon nap.

Re:110 yards? (1)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 2 years ago | (#39544869)

All the information you require is contained within the first three words you quote. I guess you learned to read in the USA.

April Fools! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39544945)

I didn't laugh.

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