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The Story Behind Australia's CSIRO Wi-Fi Claims

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the upside-down-land dept.

Australia 161

An anonymous reader writes "U.S. consumers will be making a multimillion dollar donation to an Australian government agency in the near future, whether they like it or not. After the resolution of a recent lawsuit, practically every wireless-enabled device sold in the U.S. will now involve a payment to an Australian research organization called the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, or CSIRO, which hired U.S. patent lawyers who told a very lucrative tale in an East Texas courtroom, that they had '[invented] the concept of wireless LAN ... [and] when the IEEE adopted the 802.11a standard in 1999 — and the more widely-used 802.11g standard years later — the group was choosing CSIRO technology. Now CSIRO had come to court to get the payments it deserved.'"

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161 comments

So what? (5, Insightful)

Johnny Mister (2610721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39591513)

U.S. government - and therefore U.S. people and consumers who voted and allow the government to continue - have been bullying other countries with their insane views on patents and copyrights for almost a century. Oh what you say now, don't like it when other countries do the exact thing you have been doing for a long time. Cry me a river.

Re:So what? (1)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#39591673)

China based (owned/operated) company... problem solved have fun CSIRO

Re:So what? (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592663)

And that is why the east is gonna slaughter the west in a nutshell. funny how history repeats itself huh? we in the USA ignored the old world copyrights and patents and stood on the shoulders of giants to make new products, now our corps are big and fat and would rather sue than innovate so somebody else comes along and does the exact same thing we did.

Re:So what? (4, Interesting)

Jimbookis (517778) | more than 2 years ago | (#39591693)

Oh crap, I just missed out on my third Fist Post. The wording of the summary has inflammatory overtones. OK, so a bunch of sandal-and-beige-polyester-shorts (regulation CSIRO uniform) wearing radiophysicists used their skills and worked hard at solving a problem that the simpler old Wavelan modems didn't deal with - how to handle much higher bit rates than 2Mbit in an office or home due to shorter bit periods and smooshing of the signal by reflections. Their employer spent a lot of money protecting their R&D investment worldwide and is finally reaping the benefits. This is how it's meant to work - alas CSIRO had to do battle and legal gymnastics in courts to get the so called free-trade partners to do the right thing. The problem with patents is that you need to spend a imperial crapload of money registering them as far and wide as you can and a metric shit-tonne of money for good lawyers defending them when necessary. What I want to know is, what cut does CSIRO get of my $35 802.11N Tenda access point? 2c?

Re:So what? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39592029)

Imperial crapload? Metric shit-tonne? Why are you mixing units?

Re:So what? (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 2 years ago | (#39593463)

The patent litigation happened in the US by an Australian entity.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39592079)

They get $4

CSIRO started out by making a stunning $4-per-device royalty demand. The number may have looked small buried within the cost of a $2,000 laptop but it would have significantly increased the price of a $20 router or a $10 wireless card. The ultimate settlement payments aren't anywhere near that high—especially when you consider around 700 million WiFi-enabled devices were shipped in 2011 alone—but the demand was high enough that CSIRO officials reached out to US diplomats. They wanted to emphasize the $4 gambit was "an opening figure" that CSIRO did not "expect to get in the end."

Re:So what? (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592741)

They get $4

More likely the lawyers get $3.92, and CSIRO gets $0.08.

Re:So what? (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39593253)

700 million * $1 = 700 million.

At $500 / hour, 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, that's over 500 lawyer years. No, I don't think they spent anywhere near that much. Probably an order of magnitude less - 50 lawyer years for $70 million.

That doesn't include legal costs and wasted time for Apple, Intel, etc. That's the real cost of patents - not the cost of enforcing good ones, but the costs of transaction which both sides have to carry.

Re:So what? (1)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592127)

paid in bitcoin?

Re:So what? (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592605)

how to handle much higher bit rates than 2Mbit in an office or home due to shorter bit periods and smooshing of the signal by reflections.

Exactly this!

Much as the Auzies like to thump their chest and claim to have invented WIFI, the point was it was in use prior to these guys tackling the problem of reflections. That problem was well known at the time, and range as well as wall penetration suffered as a result.

CSIRO didn't invent WIFI, they merely tweaked it. Tweaked it in a good way, mind you, but not a particularly novel or un-obvious way, but a good enough way.

Re:So what? (4, Insightful)

NoMaster (142776) | more than 2 years ago | (#39593487)

"Much as the Auzies like to thump their chest and claim to have invented WIFI ...>/i>

But they're not claiming that* (although I see how people get that impression from the [flamebait] article). Hell, even though the article couches it in terms of "stunning demands" and "outsized claims", it admits that it's a novel application of existing technologies (OFDM, FEC, and interleaving) that nobody else had gotten to work and was accepted into the standards by the IEEE Working Group.

Basically, it's a flamebait article that relies a misunderstanding of the issue that has been formed through several years of poor and oversimplified reporting of the actual case(s). Ars should be bloody ashamed of itself for publishing such utter crap, though I'm not surprised that /. has.

(* Well, one that I of know does, but he's a dickhead who has also publicly claimed that CSIRO invented DTV, once claimed that MPEG-4 wasn't suitable for television broadcasts because it uses sprites & MIDI to simulate video & audio, and is currently trying to argue that an amplitude modulated carrier never varies in amplitude (hi, alanh!).)

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39591723)

> Cry me a river

Amen to that. Reap what you sow ...

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39591815)

The fact is, every other country is a net importer of IP, whereas the US is a net exporter of IP. By this, I mean that every other country is paying IP rents to the US. IP laws do not serve any social purpose other than the enrichment of US corporations (and, hence, US politicians)...

Re:So what? (4, Interesting)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592303)

U.S. government - and therefore U.S. people and consumers who voted and allow the government to continue - have been bullying other countries with their insane views on patents and copyrights for almost a century.

Hahaha for almost a century? Hyperbole much? You do realize that the Berne Convention and the predecessor organization of WIPO were both created by European countries and the US wasn't involved at all, right? The US didn't even become a signatory of the Berne Convention until 1988. So, no, you are quite wrong. It wasn't even until the late 60s that the US even got involved in international trade bodies such as WIPO. But don't let facts get in the way of your rant.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39592691)

Wish I had mod points to mod you up!

Absolute crap article (5, Informative)

tdelaney (458893) | more than 2 years ago | (#39591635)

Before posting a link to this article, perhaps you should have read it. Ars is usually pretty good, but the fact that they allowed this incredibly biased piece of crap be published in their site makes me ashamed to go there.

There have been many good articles posted about the CSIRO's fight to get a reasonable royalty out of all these companies that agreed to pay one right at the beginning of the process. This is not one of them.

Re:Absolute crap article (2)

danversj (2585159) | more than 2 years ago | (#39591697)

I read this one last night. The comments on ars tend to agree. Massive sour grapes.

Re:Absolute crap article (0)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#39591781)

Yeah, as a reader of both sites, it is interesting how only the worst of Ars Techica stories end up on Slashdot. It's like the editors here deliberately post flame-bait, where ever they find it :)

Re:Absolute crap article (5, Insightful)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39591939)

Controversy and flamebait generate page-views as outraged nationalists and functionally incompetent OS bigots click and re-click to see how people react to their irrelevant options. This is extremely predictable, and generates ad income. Slashdot editors know this.

John Dvorak and other fucktard "pundits" realized this a long time ago and turned it into a career.

Re:Absolute crap article (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39592449)

Controversy and flamebait generate page-views as outraged nationalists and functionally incompetent OS bigots click and re-click to see how people react to their irrelevant options. This is extremely predictable, and generates ad income. Slashdot editors know this.

I protest against this practice by going straight from the summary to the comments without reading the articles. Hopefully I can convince others here to do the same.

Re:Absolute crap article (-1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39591859)

If CSIRO has a legitimate claim to the technology, why did they wait for a decade to come forward?

Re:Absolute crap article (4, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#39591883)

We have been reading about this for the last ten years.

Re:Absolute crap article (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39592077)

They spent years trying to get people to pay up as agreed to by IEEE and then spent the last 10 years in court. Just because you weren't paying attention doesn't mean they waited.

Re:Absolute crap article (1)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592171)

i think they had been trying for 10 years... it just took this long?

Re:Absolute crap article (-1, Troll)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592631)

Bullshit.

There is no reasonable royalty that exists when you are using MOSAID for patent extortion and are not suing those manufacturing the devices but the end users.

There's two phrase for it.

One is: patent shakedown
the other is: patent misuse.

Holy Flamebait Batman! (5, Informative)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 2 years ago | (#39591643)

Nice summary there, painting the CSIRO as some kind of patent troll. They never claimed that they had "[invented] the concept of wireless LAN", they claimed that they had developed some very clever algorithms dealing with rejecting interference and the like. This is the work of a serious research organization, and without it wireless networks would be a lot less useful.

Go flame on an actual patent troll, or do your basic research yourself.

Re:Holy Flamebait Batman! (0)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39591797)

This is the work of a serious research organization, and without it wireless networks would be a lot less useful.^W^W^W^W^W^W^W^Wsomeone else would have done it.

Fixed it for you, no charge this time, drive through.

Re:Holy Flamebait Batman! (4, Informative)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592343)

Pity that 'someone else' tried to, failed, and instead agreed to license the CSIRO technology under royalty agreements, then reneged and failed to pay royalties. Now they have to follow through with that agreement and pay what they were due.

Re:Holy Flamebait Batman! (2, Informative)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 2 years ago | (#39593271)

CSIRO's patent is a combination of technologies which weren't put together on a chip already due to technical problems with putting them together on a chip. CSIRO didn't manage to figure out a way to do it either. And, as far as I'm aware, their contention is that nobody took their royalty requests seriously. There was no "reneging" on an agreement to pay royalties. They took these companies to court specifically because they denied the validity of the patent.

It's sort of like saying "Mix A, B, and C together without blowing it up" will fix problem Z. That's all well and good if you, yourself, patent a non-obvious method for doing so when nobody else can figure it out. However, in this case it seems they patented the recipe "Mix A, B, C" without being able to themselves, not a process that actually worked. The problem seemed to be that the recipe was obvious to everyone, but nobody had figured out how to put it together successfully (again, CSIRO didn't either). So, once others figured out how to finally get these elements working together they sued because it used the recipe of ingredients that were obvious to everyone from the get-go would eventually be used in some form or other.

I could be off-base about the above assumptions, but they are what I've gathered from reading the various articles I could find actually discussing the patents technically and from reading the patent description itself. I'm not a radiophysicist/engineer, so I could be missing something which would be obvious to one.

Re:Holy Flamebait Batman! (5, Insightful)

samoanbiscuit (1273176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39593365)

No they actually put implemented it in silicon (which is WHY they ere granted a patent). Because they are not a commercial company, they didn't mass produce it (which the Ars article seems to take as meaning they didn't implement it).

Re:Holy Flamebait Batman! (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 2 years ago | (#39593075)

Yes, and that someone else would have patented it and had the same problem collecting royalties, and we'd be right back where we are now.

CSIRO actually does RESEARCH (5, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39591821)

Unlike patent trolls, CSIRO actually creates technology through research.

They deserve payment, unlike most who file their claims through East Texas.

American customers aren't the only ones who'll be paying. Just the only ones who refused to without a lawsuit over the issue.

Re:CSIRO actually does RESEARCH (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39591909)

Everyone who owns a patent deserves payment. It's the law. Patent trolls buy patents. If they sold the patents to a troll company, the company does't deserve to get paid? I don't see a difference.

Re:CSIRO actually does RESEARCH (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39592153)

It's the law

Welfare queens deserve payments for popping out babies. It's the law.

Re:CSIRO actually does RESEARCH (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592401)

Yep. I was thinking that the name sounded familiar--a couple of weeks ago, Nature sent out its yearly survey of Asia/Pacific research institutions that it has published papers for in one or more of their publication. CSIRO was number seven in Australia. These guys are a bona-fide major-league research organization.

CSIRO speaks truth to power..... (4, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#39593407)

...which is exactly what 'civil servants' are supposed to do, and is arguably more important than anything else they do or say.

They're Australia's national science body, the equivalent of NAS in the US. Thier traditional role is to report to government in matters of science. The organization is nobody's lap dog, in the late 50's early 60's they were the ones who showed the causal link between high levels of plutonium in childeren's bones and atmosphereic nuke testing. Nearly two's decade before the French attack on the rainbow warrior, these guys were telling governments and newspapers why it should stop, even though they were under enormus pressure from the Australian and UK goverments to STFU and concentrate on killing those fucking rabbits.

For at least the last decade, possibly longer, one side of parliment has relentlessly sought to soil the CSIRO's reputation because their climate reseach, ( which tells us we're shiting in our own nest ), offends the industry that is laying the golden shovels. From my personal POV the luddites with the golden shovels have failed in their efforts to assasinate the character of a group of exceptional 'civil servants', in fact they have significantly increased my respect for the integrity of the institution and the people within it.

Re:CSIRO actually does RESEARCH (1)

bsa3 (200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592961)

That is, indeed, the question. If we stipulate that the patent in question is 100% legitimate, then why was the lawsuit filed in East Texas when none of the defendants have any connection with that jurisdiction? I'd be much more sympathetic to CSIRO in this case if it had been filed in the Northern District of California.

Re:CSIRO actually does RESEARCH (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39593613)

Unlike patent trolls, CSIRO actually creates technology through research.

They deserve payment, unlike most who file their claims through East Texas.

No, I'm sorry, I think they do not.

As much as I admire the CSIRO for the great quality of research it is doing, I don't accept patents as solving a problem that must be solved, and I therefore don't accept that when it's some good guys doing the patenting, they should get money just because they're good.

Patents have serious issues which aren't necessary to be rehashed, I just want to argue against the phrase "they deserve payment" here. This makes it sound like the scientists aren't being paid, and are about to go begging in the streets because some US corp isn't paying its bill. It's hyperbolic.

The scientists have already been paid. The CSIRO employs scientists and pays them an annual salary to produce research. The CSIRO isn't some market speculator who does this just to make obscene amounts of money, it's a government body whose mission is scientific research to benefit the Australian people and humanity at large. So the usual (weak) arguments that the research wouldn't happen without the prospect of huge wealth don't apply at all here.

Secondly, what do you think happens when the patent licenses are paid? Where does the money go? It doesn't go only to the department who invented the WiFi algorithms. It gets distributed throughout the CSIRO. So you'll get scientists working on rabbit control getting funded by the WiFi patents. Now, this is great - extra money for scientists, etc - but it makes no sense whatsoever from a patent perspective, if you believe in them.

WiFi patents (for those who accept the rationale) are there to promote research and justify expenditure in WiFi technology. There's no question of promoting rabbit research. In fact, doing so is a complete perversion of the patent concept, as the technology which earned the patent licenses gets penalized (it doesn't receive all the money it should) in favour of unrelated technology which hasn't anything to do with the patent.

I'm opposed to patents, I think they're wrong, and I make no exception when the good guys receive the license money.

Independant Discovery (0)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#39591971)

This is the work of a serious research organization, and without it wireless networks would be a lot less useful.

If this is true then how did the IEEE committee manage to include these ideas in the 802.11 standard despite never having heard of Dr. John O'Sullivan or his patents? Like many inventions, multiple people had the same idea at about the same time, which shows that it was a naturally progression of the art. Dr. O'Sullivan is a smart man, but WiFi would have progressed along fine without him. In fact it did, and CSIRO has spent the last 15 years trying to get recognition for their previously ignored work.

The article is a bad hacket-job, and it is unfair to characterize Dr. O'Sullivan and the CSIRO as patent trolls. But the situation does highlight the current problems with how the patent system handles independent discovery. IMHO, when this happens it should be considered proof that the idea does not meet obviousness criteria and thus does not warrant a 20 monopoly on the idea. Or at the least, independent inventors should be offered some sort of co-patent (although this could be messy to manage).

Re:Independant Discovery (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39592037)

Actually IEEE asked to use the patent in question, http://standards.ieee.org/about/sasb/patcom/loa-802_11a-csiro-04Dec1998.pdf. To which CSIRO agreed to licnese the patent to anyone implimenting the standard.

If you read through all the garbage comments you find a few major things that the the articles author neglected to mention.

Re:Independant Discovery (5, Informative)

evilviper (135110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592205)

If this is true then how did the IEEE committee manage to include these ideas in the 802.11 standard despite never having heard of Dr. John O'Sullivan or his patents?

They DIDN'T. There's documentation to prove IEEE knew of the CISRO patent. IIRC, they first requested free usage, and when CISRO refused, they request FRAND licensing, and when they agreed, went forward with the standard.

WiFi would have progressed along fine without him.

Yes it would have, but the IEEE found the technology they developed as compelling enough to tie themselves to required licensing on that patent. Maybe 802.11g would have been slower, less resilient to interference, etc. Whatever the case, they did use this tech, and need to license it.

, when this happens it should be considered proof that the idea does not meet obviousness criteria

Either an idea is obvious, or it isn't, it doesn't change in hindsight vs foresight. If someone spends a mil to develop something after someone else developed and patented it, too bad, that doesn't make it obvious. Besides, it would be far, far too easy to defraud the legitimate inventor, just claiming so-and-so hasn't seen the patent, but came up with the same thing.

Right now, the burden of proof for overturning a patent is too high, but throwing more rules and schemes and exceptions won't solve the problem, it'll make it worse... and even bigger mess you need more lawyers and money to avoid getting screwed-over by.

Re:Independant Discovery (3, Insightful)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592983)

Either an idea is obvious, or it isn't, it doesn't change in hindsight vs foresight.

You said a lot that made sense until you got here.

The most brilliant and elegant solutions to problems out there are often painfully obvious once they've been pointed out, but it still took that one creative thinker to realize it.

Re:Independant Discovery (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39593267)

It being obvious after it's explained, does not make something obvious, it makes it a good explanation, one could suggest that is very close to the nature of a valid patent.

What's novel in the patent? (4, Informative)

zalas (682627) | more than 2 years ago | (#39593499)

I only briefly looked at the patent, and it looks like it's simply the application of OFDM [wikipedia.org] to wireless communication between computers. OFDM, for those who aren't very familiar, is a way to deal with linear time invariant systems that can corrupt the data. For example, you can consider the signal going from one antenna to the other as going through such a system. Since these types of systems will only modify the amplitude and phase of each frequency band separately, instead of mixing them together as would be the case in the time domain, you encode the information you want to send as specific frequencies. For example, if you send out a wireless signal and it echoes all over the place, the time domain signal gets all mixed up and "slushy". However, if you perform a Fourier transform on the input signal and the output signal, you'll notice that the echoing only caused frequency bands to individually get attenuated/magnified and/or shifted in phase, but none of the frequency bands has mixed together. OFDM exploits this property to provide for robust communication (well, it's a bit more complicated than that, but that's the general gist of it). However, it sounds like this patent is simply saying "hey, OFDM is good for wireless communication", which feels kind of obvious to me considering the point of OFDM.

Re:Holy Flamebait Batman! (3, Interesting)

ndykman (659315) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592489)

Seconded. No trolling here. They want reasonable payments for creating clever algorithms and techniques for dealing with interference. Sure, it was based on existing technologies, but choosing what technologies to use and combining them correctly and effectively was a difficult and unique proposition, and I think a patentable idea.

They even shopped the technology to actual companies to make products based on it, no go.

Also, it seems that their is a claim that the IEEE standards group was aware of the patent and used the technology. Happens all the time.

So, they finally to court to get royalties for use of the patented technology. Seems to me they exhausted other avenues. Companies were dismissive of their idea as "obvious". Well, in hindsight, why wouldn't it be? So, they went to court.

Good for them. Sure, they venue shopped, but they accepted a pretty reasonable settlement from a large group of companies that greatly profited from the invention.

Bonus, the money goes back to basic research.

Re:Holy Flamebait Batman! (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592685)

They are a patent troll. Ever read this article? One of hundreds.

http://www.rethink-wireless.com/2011/03/18/mosaid-sues-16-vendors-wi-fi-patents.htm [rethink-wireless.com]
who do you suppose gave mosaid (known patent troll) the patents?

What CSIRO came up with was not inventive, and they sold the patent off to patent litigation firms. To act like they're innocent because they did some research is to paint a very very biased troll implying CSIRO is unique.

There are probably 125 companies around the globe that were doing what CSIRO did at the same time, it's just that they didn't patent it.

Re:Holy Flamebait Batman! (3, Insightful)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 2 years ago | (#39593145)

Bullshit. The patents MOSAID holds are ones they got from Agere Systems, not CSIRO. The fact that CSIRO is the one doing the suing in this case kind of gives it away that they didn't sell them. Obviously.

And the IEEE disagrees that what they did was not inventive, when they asked for a licensing agreement for the CSIRO patents. Which were developed with taxpayer money. I'm pretty sure you'd be very pissed off if your government did some research on your dime then gave it away for free to everyone else in the world. I'm sure you'd be asking what your government is doing spending your money to help overseas companies.

Re:Holy Flamebait Batman! (4, Informative)

mcbridematt (544099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592833)

Exactly. The technology in question was adopted for 802.11a and g. The Ars article is flamebait.

Wireless Networking? Of Digital Devices? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39591645)

I thought Kevin Flynn had that idea back in 1989?

It's not a donation (3, Insightful)

catacow (24626) | more than 2 years ago | (#39591653)

It's not a donation, it's payment for use of the technology which was developed and then patented.

Re:It's not a donation (3)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592051)

It's not a donation, it's payment for use of the technology which was developed and then patented.

Under newspeak, payment to American patent trolls is "supporting innovation" while payment to foreign governments that paid for development of new technologies and then patented them is "a donation".

Fantastic (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39591667)

Now they can piss it away on global warming research.

Fascinating.... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39591689)

Having a troll as a story - kudos!

Re:Fascinating.... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592781)

Having a troll as a story - kudos!

Yeah, but makes it kind of pointless to try to come up with a trollish response.

*The* Story? (1)

theweatherelectric (2007596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39591783)

The story? Well, it's a story, anyhow. The tone the article takes is unfortunate. All the "us and them" in the article takes away from the few interesting things it mentions.

sob sob (1)

pbjones (315127) | more than 2 years ago | (#39591793)

Everyone will/may be paying, not just U.S. consumers. (I avoided the U.S. = us pun). The article splits the technology into separate methods, while the patent covers a working combination of methods, so the article draws a conclusion that the whole method was just something that was already invented, they don't say the same thing about the wheel, which is also part of many patents.

Sometimes I wonder (1)

andrew3 (2250992) | more than 2 years ago | (#39591801)

I wonder how much of the money is actually going to the scientists that invented it? My guess is probably not much.

Re:Sometimes I wonder (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#39591905)

None apart from the fact that more of them stay employed. Maybe a few will get a better job with this in their resume.

Re:Sometimes I wonder (4, Interesting)

Xiaran (836924) | more than 2 years ago | (#39591965)

This is the team lead http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_O'Sullivan_(engineer) [wikipedia.org] I think he is doing just fine. And as an Australian citizen I would rather all this lovely money go back to CSIRO so they can carry on their work.

Re:Sometimes I wonder (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39593153)

I know the guy - he works in an office down the hall from my PhD supervisor. He's currently working on phased array feeds for the new Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder [wikipedia.org] telescope, which let it see 30x as much of the sky at once as a conventional radio telescope. I don't know what fraction of these feeds was his idea, but I assume it was significant. If we're really lucky, perhaps the technology they develop will turn out to be as useful as that mentioned in the fine article.

LOL /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39591803)

1. Notice that a very poorly written, inflammatory, intentionally non-researched, racist and obviously biased article on Ars is creating a lot of traffic.
2. Post on /.
3. Get more traffic on /.
4. Profit!

Slashdot: you aren't even a shadow of your former self.

The lion hates it... (1)

craznar (710808) | more than 2 years ago | (#39591805)

... when the mouse bites its arse.

Congratulations CSIRO - you are either one hell of a mouse, or just joining in the fun that Apple, Google, Microsoft and every other damned tech company is having. Either way - I don't see what the problem is.

Oh - by the way, given my government is getting the money - I am a touch biased :)

Nothing but spin here. (4, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592053)

What a slimy article. The writer is doing a few dishonest thing here... First, he exaggerates the claims being made. Nobody ever claimed Austraila invented WiFi, in fact, what they said is later in TFA: . "CSIRO did not invent the concept of wireless LAN, it just invented the best way of doing it, the best way it's used now throughout the world," Furniss told the jury in 2009.

Second, he does some iirrelevant hand-waving, talking about IEEE defining the standard, talking about WiFi (802.11b presumably) existing before CSIRO's patent, asking a rep from one company if he'd heard of CISRO, etc. All this is completely irrelevant. Either the WiFi standards in question use technologies that CISRO developed and patented, or they don't. Everything else is pointless distraction from the topic at-hand.

Third, he tries to just lump them in with patent trolls... guilt by association. These other companies are making baseless claims about WiFi, and CISRO is suing over WiFi, ergo, CISRO's claims MUST be baseless as well. It's a bit like insurance companies claiming that, because there are some frivilous lawsuits against them, EVERY suit against them MUST be frivilous.

Nowhere in the article is there ANY discussion at all about the patented technologies in question, and whether CISRO's patented technology is, in-fact, integrated into the 802.11 standards. That's what matters, and that's what the author doesn't want to talk about at all.

Re:Nothing but spin here. (2)

LetterRip (30937) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592197)

Either the WiFi standards in question use technologies that CISRO developed and patented, or they don't.

What is claimed by the article is that the patent should not have been granted because corporations already had hardware on the market that used the particular combination of algorithms recommended in the patent years before the patent was filed. No one had patented it because it was in fact 'patently obvious' since that is what was already being used.

Unfortunately I don't know enough about the technology to know if the claims of the author are accurate.

Re:Nothing but spin here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39592235)

Hehe, don't look at www.csiro.au "Wireless LAN, CSIRO's #1 invention, is estimated to be in more than three billion devices worldwide."
Ofcourse probablly written by marketing folk.

article glosses over a few things (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39592063)

the CSIRO had found a technique to heavily inteference and transmission of wireless signals
at the same time consortiums threw significantly more money at the problem couldn't come up with a better solution
yes, IEEE started the standards process before the patent was filed
unlike most patent filings today, CSIRO had already developed the hardware
also unlike today, you don't have to file a patent the second you come up with an idea

after years of tech consortiums failing at an alternative, IEEE asked for use of the "patent"
CSIRO agreed to it becoming part of the standard on the basis of receiving royalties
(just like any other corporation or patent holder would demanded)

the problem being CSIRO never got any royalties
the article "writer" expected the CSIRO, after years of companies not honouring their agreement, to simply roll-over and bugger off
but who's at fault here? the CSIRO for asking for what they were told they'd get, or the companies using the patrent for free?
from what i can tell, the companies were hoping to play the waiting game
thinking the next iteration of wireless tech could work without the patent
so if you wait long enough, you can profit all you need from it's use, then expect a small payout years (decades?) later when the patent is superceded
unfortunately for the companies, the patent still applies today as it did when the standard was formed

also, the writer upfront says the CSIRO sued for $4 per device
he makes no mention of how much the original royalty was for
which if the companies paid it in the first place, they would be making this "donation"

i mean ffs. the writer says CSIRO is commonly called "si-roh"
it's never been called that outside of small pocket of idiots thinking CSIRO is a word rather than an acronym
so either Joe Mullin got trolled hard by certain "fact" presented to him, or he was lazy and didn't do research

overall i'd put this to the public:
would you rather pay your "donation" to government research organisation, or to a technology corporation?

Re:article glosses over a few things (1)

NoMaster (142776) | more than 2 years ago | (#39593555)

i mean ffs. the writer says CSIRO is commonly called "si-roh"
it's never been called that outside of small pocket of idiots thinking CSIRO is a word rather than an acronym

Having worked alongside several current and ex CSIRO technicians & scientists, I can tell you that every single one of them has pronounced it "si-roh".

FUCK TEXAS (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592111)

see above

Not trolls but still not right (2)

Super Jamie (779597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592119)

The CSIRO did indeed invent the wireless technology which we all use in wireless LANs today. However, they're a government-funded agency, they should be creating technology for the good of all citizens of the world and making that technology available for free.

As far as I'm concerned, my Australian Tax dollars have already paid the CSIRO for this work. They're not patent trolls but I disagree with their actions to assert royalty payments over this patent.

Re:Not trolls but still not right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39592267)

No, they should be doing it for the good of all citizens of Australia.

Re:Not trolls but still not right (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39592495)

they are!
Australian citizens need research organisations like the CSIRO, and to keep it alive it needs funds.

Now imagine if they kept churning out things royalty free... it'd be a massive sink hole for your/our tax moey.
They wouldnt last long if they relied solely on government funds... the aus gov blows all its cash on over priced endeavours like feasibility studies an NBN, desal plants that arent needed for another 10 years. Also other countries/companies get rich while australian citizens are footing the bill.

You make something cool.. u should get paid for your time, not just your manufacturing companies using your research. Kudos dont pay your bills.

Re:Not trolls but still not right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39592375)

Citizens of the world? Blow that. CSIRO is partially Government funded. Much of their income comes from exactly this - royalties. Without them, the CSIRO would be a very poor research institution indeed.

When more people than just Australians are paying tax to the Australian Government, I'll accept the idea that only Australians should have to foot the expenses for research while everyone else gets to profit from it. Until then, what's happened here is exactly what patents are really for, and the OP just stinks of sour grapes.

Re:Not trolls but still not right (0)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592925)

Australians benefit from research of the American government, and I'm not whining about you guys freeloading off of us because I'm not a whiny cunt (and because use of 'freeloading' arguments indicates that you're a dumbass most of the time). I'm proud of US government agencies when they invent useful technology, and being able to stroke my dick at other nationalities on the internet about what my country did is far more satisfying than getting you to pay us taxes with funny looking money.

Re:Not trolls but still not right (2)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 2 years ago | (#39593183)

The American government does the same thing as CSIRO is doing here - except that they skip a step and often just give the patent to some company from the outset. I can assure you that virtually none of the partially government funded research from the United States was implemented in whatever it is you have without cost to you.

I see absolutely nothing wrong with research institutions across the ditch charging for their research to recoup costs, so Australian taxpayers aren't footing the bill for foreign corporations to get stuff for free. (And we split the atom, so there).

Re:Not trolls but still not right (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#39593243)

You are correct about the Bayh-Dole act and it's effect, although it at least requires part of the funding come from the private entity, and it has a few theoretical strings attached that have no real bite in reality. It's a total crock of shit, and we should be fucking ashamed of ourselves for letting such an awful act pass. You should be ashamed of CSIRO for their behavior.

Re:Not trolls but still not right (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 2 years ago | (#39593601)

Why? They're in Australia - not my problem.

Re:Not trolls but still not right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39593341)

We get things for free from the USA because we have been close allies for over 50 years and have cultural ties going back centuries?

Sir you must be kidding.

ALOHAnet - predates WIRED ETHERNET (2)

ebunga (95613) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592135)

Ethernet took ideas from ALOHAnet, which was a wireless system.

Israeli military tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39592377)

I thought wlan was based on Israeli military technology.

crappy post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39592431)

Yes - If the USA government wanted to Pay for research and then license it - it too could then use that money to FUND more research - its actually a good model... after all - look at all the stuff that NASA research has spun off over the years... but it its no different from a company be it european or USA developing and licensing it. The tone of the article is inflammatory and unjust. Maybe instead the USA could think about ALL THE LOST opportunities to reduce their taxes by doing similar things. (And no - Im not talking about open slather research that will fund itself of course but I would suggest that the money the USA put into the INTERNET has repaid the USA many many times over in greater employment etc)
      Much of the CSIRO research is given free also mind you ... its done by the people for the people
  but we try to take a reasonable approach (Tony Abbott excluded) to these things.... and per capita - Australia has been incredibly well represented in Research in many fields
CSIRO is one reason why - but we arent big enough for the market to fund plus the market isnt wise enough to fund many of the things that we now rely on.... Like the INTERNET.....

Re:crappy post (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592881)

The American model employed by NASA and other US government entities is much better. Direct funding is more efficient. England used legal monopolies called 'letters patent' (from which patents get their name) hundreds of years ago to get funding without having a visible tax, because taxes were unpopular. It was a huge fucking mess, which is why they passed the Statute of Monopolies.

You probably use aother CSIRO inventions sometimes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39592513)

Aussies use some every day....

Notable Inventions

Notable inventions and breakthroughs by CSIRO include:

        A4 DSP chip
        Aerogard, insect repellent
        Atomic absorption spectroscopy
        Biological control of Salvinia
        Development of Linola (a flax variety with low alpha-linolenic acid content) with a longer life used as a stockfeed
        Distance measuring equipment (DME) used for aviation navigation
        Gene shears
        Microwave landing system, a microwave approach and landing system for aircraft
        Use of myxomatosis and calicivirus to control rabbit numbers
        Parkes Radio Telescope
        The permanent pleat for fabrics
        Polymer banknote
        Relenza flu drug
        'Softly' woolens detergent
        Wi-Fi[1]
        X-ray phase contrast imaging

Re:You probably use aother CSIRO inventions someti (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39592723)

        The permanent pleat for fabrics

This would probably get more patent money than WiFi

Ars Scrapes the bottom of the barrel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39592611)

It's unlike ArsTecnica to have such poor journalism. Mind you, SlashDot is going the same way too. I normally scour Digg for my trash tabloid.

Was this an obvious invention/solution? No
Did CSIRO make their commercial position clear from day 1? Yes
Did a number of US companies refuse to pay because they thought they could steal someone else's work? Yes

This is HOW the patent system is meant to work.
Ars, I recommend you get rid of that w@anker "wannabe journalist" now. he has no idea about journalism ... unless Ars is now just about the number of hits regardless of the trash they post.

It's been said many times before ... CSIRO is a "Research and Development" house ... not a patent troll. They use the money gained from royalties/patents to develop "new technologies".

AC

Re:Ars Scrapes the bottom of the barrel (0)

Lulfas (1140109) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592939)

Was this an obvious invention/solution? No That is part of where the question comes in. All the tech used was already invented and known about. Of the three key pieces, OFDM was in papers from the 50s, interleaving in the 60s, and forward error correction in the late 60s. There was even a modem made on these principles sold to the US military 20 years earlier.

Re:Ars Scrapes the bottom of the barrel (1)

samoanbiscuit (1273176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39593431)

But could the modem operate at high speeds in your house when you turned on the microwave or TV? CSIRO's could.

Shaheet (0)

pubwvj (1045960) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592617)

I smell troll dung. From down under no less.

Good for CSIRO? Not so sure (2)

HuguesT (84078) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592655)

Let me start by saying that the money CSIRO will be receiving on the WiFi patents is well deserved.

However, I'm not so sure wether this is such a massive win for CSIRO in the end. The reason for this is that it takes a lot of effort to patent things on top of researching them. This one set of WiFi patents will surely pay for itself but what about all the other patents which are not so lucrative?

Meanwhile CSIRO is paying patent attorneys and patent agencies throughout the world instead of paying Australian scientists to do science work. It would perhaps be enlightening to see some numbers. I know for a fact that numbers of scientists at some CSIRO divisions have been dropping significantly. Is this a sign of good health?

CSIRO is a public body. I'm not sure it should patent anything. Actually I'm not sure it should conduct business the way it does now.

Disclaimer: former CSIRO employee here.

Re:Good for CSIRO? Not so sure (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 2 years ago | (#39593203)

The problem is that if they don't enforce it on highly visible cases like the core research underpinning WiFi as it is today, companies could see them as being lax at enforcing their commercial rights and more companies will simply choose to license their tech and not pay. I can't see how letting anyone off the hook could be beneficial to them.

Re:Good for CSIRO? Not so sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39593235)

Given that conservative governments shut down everything that isn't a profit centre or a vote winner, CSIRO's hands are somewhat tied. The Howard years saw science and technology in Australia suffer massively.

Australian Gov joins patent trolls (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39592681)

Congratulation to the government paid CSIRO for joining the current trend of trolls, limiting and stifling innovation. Government backed trolls!
They have never actually made any devices, just came up with a simple formula? So much for Tesla and friends inventions starting around 1870 on wireless transfer.
I assume next, the CSIRO will start going after little innovative companies to start blackmailing them, before hitting the bigger companies.
Yet another misuse of the patent system.

Re:Australian Gov joins patent trolls (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 2 years ago | (#39593227)

I'm confused. They developed a technology, yet somehow developing technology is stifling innovation? Of course they didn't make devices, that isn't their job - they're a research institution, and the patent system was designed to encourage research and development. This isn't a misuse of the patent system, it's exactly how it's meant to be used.

Story Behind Why It's Pointless to Discuss TFA (1)

Grieviant (1598761) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592795)

Aggregate percentage of total posts on this topic from:
Aussie nationalists with no clue about wireless communications: 40%
Other nationalities with no clue about wireless communications: 58%

Re:Story Behind Why It's Pointless to Discuss TFA (2)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 2 years ago | (#39592875)

w00t!!!!

I Am The Two Percent!

Re:Story Behind Why It's Pointless to Discuss TFA (1)

samoanbiscuit (1273176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39593455)

US nationalists who are all like "PATENTS ARE TEH EVULZ!" or "FUCK OZTRALIER!": 2% #justjoking

infOrmative COCKCOCK (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39593051)

share. FreeBSD is mechanics. So I'm Slashdot's +Would like to The project fZaces, are about 7000/5

Old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39593419)

Didn't we already talk about this?
http://mobile.slashdot.org/story/12/04/01/2011245/australian-wifi-inventors-win-us-legal-battle

What a load of inflamatory crap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39593469)

This sort of post disgusts me.

The CSIRO is a sterling example of why the patent system exists. They have done some amazing research over the years, and have given away many of their inventions without fee.

I've made the choice to boycott slashdot, and have asked my fellow Aussie IT geeks to do the same.

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