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U.S. Firms Take on Australia's CSIRO Over Patents

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the hey-we-want-those dept.

Patents 426

dingram17 writes "ABC News is reporting that six U.S. computer companies (Apple, Dell, Hewlett Packard, Intel, Microsoft and Netgear) are taking legal action to try to break a U.S. patent that the CSIRO holds on wireless networking. The CSIRO has patents on OFDM technology, as used in 802.11a and 802.11g. It has been alleged that the CSIRO demands $4 per chipset for the use of this technology. It appears that the patent in question is U.S. Patent 5,487,069 'Wireless LAN.' From a quick look, this appears to be a wide ranging patent."

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My dog has fleas (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563550)

Do you have fleas?

A little help? (-1)

XanC (644172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563558)

Who or what is a CSIRO?

Re:A little help? (5, Informative)

danpat (119101) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563573)

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

Kind-of a catch-all government sponsored department for scientific research.

See http://www.csiro.au/ [csiro.au]

Re:A little help? (3, Informative)

KeyboardMonkey (744594) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563639)

CSIRO is an applied science research organisation where part of the money is provided by the Australian government, and part of the money is provided by business.

There is a strong focus on making practical discoveries for use in industry.

Re:A little help? (0, Redundant)

kcbrown (7426) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563576)

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, in Australia.

Re:A little help? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563577)

http://www.csiro.au/ [csiro.au]

an Austrlaian research Body, to the best of my knowledge.

Re:A little help? (0, Redundant)

frickenhell (643246) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563587)

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization

Re:A little help? (-1, Redundant)

sik0fewl (561285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563590)

FTA, it sounds like a research organization funded and/or operated by the Australian government.. and according to Wikipedia, I'm not far off [wikipedia.org] .

Re:A little help? (0, Redundant)

ggm (27585) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563594)

C(ommonwealth) S(cientific) I(ndustrial) R(esearch) O(rganization)

Re:A little help? (0, Redundant)

goss (136281) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563596)

It's the Australian government research body, basically.

http://www.csiro.au/ [csiro.au]

Re:A little help? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563603)

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation - http://www.csiro.au/ [csiro.au]

Re:A little help? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563608)

CSIRO stands for Commonwealth Scientific Research Organization.

Re:A little help? (0, Redundant)

dadjaka (827325) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563610)

CSIRO is the [Australian] Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. http://csiro.au/ [csiro.au]

Re:A little help? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563615)

Q: "Who or what is a CSIRO?"

http://www.csiro.au/ [csiro.au]

From that site:

CSIRO is Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

As one of the world's largest and most diverse scientific global research organisations our work touches every aspect of Australian life: from the molecules that build life to the molecules in space.

Working from sites across the nation and around the globe, our 6500 staff are focussed on providing new ways to improve your quality of life, as well as the economic and social performance of a number of industry sectors through research and development.

These sectors are:

* Agribusiness
* Energy and Transport
* Environment and Natural Resources
* Health
* Information, Communication and Services
* Manufacturing
* Mineral Resources

CSIRO (0, Redundant)

ZombieEngineer (738752) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563620)

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation [csiro.gov.au] is an Australian government funded research organisation who perform scientific research into problems faced by the Australian public and industries.

One of their other tech products is super-capacitors [cap-xx.com] for "portable electronic devices" which extends the life of the batteries (that digital camera of yours may very well have CSIRO tech inside it.).

Re:A little help? (1, Troll)

servoled (174239) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563711)

Ladies and Gentlemen, come one, come all!! See karma whoring in its truest form!! Watch in amazement as a question is asked which could easily have been answered by Google, watch as 17 essential identical responses are posted in hopes of being modded "Informative". The showing is free, free, free but hurry as seats will go quickly.

Seriously, were all 17 answers really necessary?

Re:A little help? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563724)

Did you know that CSIRO stands for Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization?

Re:A little help? (1)

fimbulvetr (598306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563864)

Makes it seem as if /. is just a bunch of australian mac lovers, doesn't it?

hypocrisy (3, Interesting)

MasterOfUniverse (812371) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563562)

First, let me start by saying that the patent system is pretty stupid. However, its pretty hypocrit of US companies to fight a patent that does not fit them. These companies would not even think for a minute to sue someone else over a patent they own. But when someone uses it against them then they cry foul.

Re:hypocrisy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563621)

Welcome to Capitalism. That'll be a a $4 explanation surcharge. Cash or Credit? We also accept Debit, Traveler's Checks and Exotic Cheeses. Paper or Plastic?

Re:hypocrisy (3, Interesting)

sik0fewl (561285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563628)

I think it's great how the system works. Large corporations with large patent portfolios can squeeze money out of, or totally bankrupt, small businesses that can't afford to license patents from the Big Guys. Also, if the Big Guys ever run into a patent they don't like, they can just get together and try to break the patent so that they can use the technology for free!

Re:hypocrisy (1)

Geek of Tech (678002) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563741)

No! Can't you see! These companies are unpatriotic! They're trying to overthrow the free world by fighting against intellectual property... We need IP! We can't just let companies like this throw that away! I bet they're Russians or Communist or Liberal or Something...

What? There the bad guys? What? Oh.

Those companies are so unpatriotic! They're trying to store up IP...

They're actually screwing with the AU government (4, Insightful)

anti-NAT (709310) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563804)

CSIRO is a not-for-profit Australian Government organisation. Do all these companies really want to screw around with what is likely to be their biggest customer in Australia ?

Invalidate the patent by all means if it shouldn't have been granted. However, if it is legitimate, then just pay the licensing fees.

Remember, a patent is a government granted monopoly for a time period to allow the patent holder to both recoup their costs and to make a profit out of inventing the idea that has been patented. If these companies don't like that, then they should have all their patents revoked immediately, or they should sue the US government for incopetence because the US government granted the patent in the first place.

Re:hypocrisy (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563647)

He who lives by the patent.....

Re:hypocrisy (3, Interesting)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563769)

" However, its pretty hypocrit of US companies to fight a patent that does not fit them."

What you call hypocritical, I call totally expected behavior.

Re:hypocrisy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563778)

So true. Just what did people expect? You can't run around saying "oooh! big companies are evil and abuse the patent system!" every damn day then act all shocked when big companies do exactly what you've been screaming about.

Re:hypocrisy (3, Insightful)

MasterOfUniverse (812371) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563805)

What you call hypocritical, I call totally expected behavior.

Right. And both are not mutually exclusive.

Wow.... (5, Insightful)

the_macman (874383) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563566)

Simply stunning. So a company actually holds a legal patent to a technology they invented and since the big boys (Dell, Apple, etc) don't want to pay the royalties they try to legally "break" the patent. Does anyone else see something wrong with this? I hardly see these companies as the victim.

Re:Wow.... (1)

sik0fewl (561285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563645)

You don't really expect them to pay $4 a chipset do you? It's only fair that the big boys try to circumvent the patent system.. er.. "break the patent".

Re:Wow.... (2, Insightful)

cHiphead (17854) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563651)

A government entity should never be allowed to patent its own tech, that tech was paid for by the people and should be available freely to all in every scenario I can possibly think of.

Re:Wow.... (1)

black mariah (654971) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563680)

Welcome to Soviet Australia. 1984, man! NINETEEN EIGHTY FOOOOOOUUURRRR!

Re:Wow.... (2, Interesting)

Craigj0 (10745) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563698)

I think the opposite is true they should patent so that all of the citezens can use the patented tech for free. Charge the other countries companies after all we the people paid for it.

Re:Wow.... (5, Informative)

shitdrummer (523404) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563706)

A government entity should never be allowed to patent its own tech, that tech was paid for by the people and should be available freely to all in every scenario I can possibly think of.

Profits from CSIRO patents are reinvested into research. This in turn lowers the required government funding thus saving Aussie taxpayers quite a bit of money.

By the way, the CSIRO is highly respected by a lot of Australians.

Shitdrummer

Re:Wow.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563720)

It seems to me that the best way for a government entity to return value to the people is by licensing the technology and reinvesting the proceeds in further research. Especially when the the entity is in Australia, receives bugger all funding compared to US institutions (eg DARPA etc), and Australian companies have far less chance of profiting from the technology than overseas tech-corporations with the existing infrastructure to make use of it.

Re:Wow.... (3, Insightful)

natmsincome.com (528791) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563775)

The interesting thing in this case is that it wasn't paid for by "THE PEOPLE" it was paid for by another country.

If by patenting it they can allocate more grant money in "THEIR" own country instead of the country were the patent was registered it will be better for "THEIR PEOPLE".

I guest it all depend of weither you talk about poeple in the global state (in which case this is bad but people in america lose jobs to people in India is good because it raises the average standard of living globaly) or in the regional state (then losing jobs to another country is bad but this is good)

Also how about another scenario, by patenting technology governments can increase the amount of money they can give out from Grants without increasing taxes. This would result in more technology (Grants generally focus on long term research whereas companys generally forcus on ROI - short term) with less of a burden on the general population and would only affect people who used the new technology.

Re:Wow.... (1)

roadoi (68017) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563809)

It should be freely available to use by the people whose taxes pay for its development, i.e. the Australian people and companies. AFAIK, Dell, Microsoft and friends are not australian companies and therefore should have to pay the $4 per chip requested

Re:Wow.... (4, Insightful)

kavau (554682) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563820)

A government entity should never be allowed to patent its own tech, that tech was paid for by the people and should be available freely to all in every scenario I can possibly think of.

In this case, the research was paid for by Australian taxpayers. So why should American companies be able to freeload on the technology?

Pfffft (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563848)

If they are going to take money off me and use it for research then I think they _should_ try and recoup the invested money back, especially from foreign corporations who didn't contribute to the research in the first place. Giving away the tech that I helped pay for wouldn't help me at all. It would only help a few specific companies in a specific area. Much better if they can get a return on the investment and then reduce the need for me to make additional contributions by more self funding.

Re:Wow.... (1)

CRC'99 (96526) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563858)

On the other hand, this income from the patent can be used to decrease the running cost of the organisation to the Australian tax payer.

If a government department has used my taxes to invent this, and can make enough to partyky run itself from the income, meaning *more* of my taxes aren't spent keeping the organisation running, I say that's great!

It's when they use all my taxes and get nothing out of it that I get more annoyed!

Re:Wow.... (1)

1ucius (697592) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563725)

There is no such thing as "breaking a patent." What the big tech companies are *probably* doing (tfa is useless) is asking the court to declare the patent invalid because someone else previously made, used, or sold the invention.

Hypocrites (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563572)

It seems that they can't handle what they dish out.

shockingly empty (-1, Offtopic)

fbartho (840012) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563578)

Wow, damn... I was curious about this article, so I clicked on the slashdot link to see the comments to read what people had to say, and there were absolutely no comments. I was shocked.

It was as if a million packets missed the slashdot server and expired their TTL

-1 redundant; -1 offtopic;

Possible Explanation? (-1, Troll)

nighthawk127127 (848761) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563730)

Article Posted On: 12:48 AM Your Comment Posted On: 12:55 AM Elapsed Time: 7 minutes Explanations/Causes/Whatever: It's nearly freaking 1:00 on a Wednesday night!!! What are you people doing up? What am I doing up?!? Also, whenever an article is posted that is relatively obscure (by obscure, I mean "having an acronym longer than 3 letters"), the first posts are usually people who have an intelligent comment to say and who actually understand the content of the article. Once there are a sufficient number of those comments, everyone else can comment on their speling an grammer, or just make random "+5 Funny" posts. This helps an article develop an healthy balance of comments, however this process takes a somewhat longer time in the wee hours of the morning a relatively obscure article (as opposed to something about Star Wars). Now don't get me wrong, I like Star Wars, and I like the way Slashdot works, and sometimes I think the comments people are posted are more entertaining and enlightening than the actual article. "Well then," you're probably wondering, "why the hell is he writing this?" That's an excellent question. And the only answer is that I'm bored, and the only obvious alternative is sleep. That's even more boring.

Sorry... (1)

nighthawk127127 (848761) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563738)

Dammit this was supposed to be in response to another guy's post! Ignore both of these!!!

Re:Sorry... (1)

nighthawk127127 (848761) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563747)

Aw hell... I DID post it in reply to that guy. I need to go to bed...

Re:Possible Explanation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563844)

It's not 1.00am in Australia. Most of these comments seem to be from Down Under.

Re:Possible Explanation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563891)

Hey, it is not that time in the whole world - about 4pm in Sydney (GMT+10)

Go aussie go.. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563579)

I hope the CSIRO wins considereing the way we get stuffed over by US companies out here.

Patents (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563584)

Remember, people: Patents are only good when they put money in YOUR pocket.

Turnabout is fair play... (5, Insightful)

Sensible Clod (771142) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563585)

After all the patents U.S. companies have been taking out for this exact purpose, I say, let the Aussies bash 'em once!

At any rate, I've given up hope that the patent system will actually be fixed...

Re:Turnabout is fair play... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563670)

Interestingly, although the CSIRO is not a multinational company, the force behind it is larger than a multinational - it is a government. If the Australian government is worried about this cash cow it will defend it. And it's bigger than Microsoft, Dell et al.

Re:Turnabout is fair play... (1)

Eagle5596 (575899) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563874)

Actually... no it isn't. Austrailian GDP: $579 billion, all of which cannot be brought to bear on this without destroying the country utterly. In fact only a VERY small portion could be bankrolled for this. HP Yearly Revenue: $79.9 billion Dell Yearly Revenue: $49.2 billion Microsoft Yearly Revenue: $36.8 billion Intel Yearly Revenue: $34.2 billion Apple Yearly Revenue: $8.28 billion Around $208.4 billion with a lot in reserves, no roads to build, no wellfare to payout, no military to support... Austrailia will loose the money game.

Re:Turnabout is fair play... (1)

Eagle5596 (575899) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563886)

Actually... no it isn't.

Austrailian GDP: $579 billion, all of which cannot be brought to bear on this without destroying the country utterly. In fact only a VERY small portion could be bankrolled for this.

HP Yearly Revenue: $79.9 billion
Dell Yearly Revenue: $49.2 billion
Microsoft Yearly Revenue: $36.8 billion
Intel Yearly Revenue: $34.2 billion
Apple Yearly Revenue: $8.28 billion

Around $208.4 billion with a lot in reserves, no roads to build, no wellfare to payout, no military to support... Austrailia will loose the money game.

Re:Turnabout is fair play... (1)

name773 (696972) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563695)

hopefully this wakes at least one influential person in the listed companies to the patent problems.
if it doesn't, i sincerely hope they get what they deserve...

and then fix the patent system :)

Re:Turnabout is fair play... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563791)

Doesn't it just suck when you have to play by your own rules? Fuckers.

But knowing the AU gov, Howard is going to do his damndest to make the CSIRO fold on this one, just like everything else.

Whats wrong with this picture? (4, Interesting)

hawado (762018) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563588)

So it seems that if you have lots of money and you find a patent held by someone that infringes on your ability to rape for money, you just take them to court to null the patent.
The companies listed I am sure all have patents that are just as far reaching or broad,(didn't sony just apply for a patent for a method of transfering information directly to your brain), which I am sure could be contested in the same way.
I guess the only difference is that Joe Nobody doesn't have the cash or the political/economic connections that these companies have.
if they win, what will the precidence be for the rest of us as to the legality or coverage of US patents? Could this be the loophole many have been looking for to get all those wide reaching, stupid patents we all hate and read about, dismissed?

You don't like patents now? (4, Insightful)

AdamTheBastard (532937) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563597)

Why won't these companies make up their minds? Do they like protecting IP with patents or not? It looks as though the only important IP is their IP.

Microsoft has been using patents for years to squash oposition, now they are sick and tired of $4 per chip? That must be breaking their bank!

Awesome (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563600)

I hope the CSIRO gets to keep the patent and the others keep paying the $4 fee. the patent system is Pathetic and stupid and Im sure this is a pain for the big guys, but while they use their patents in the same way.. then who cares...

Could this be it? (1)

Hido (655301) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563601)

I mean if these guys own the patent I say more power to them. Just maybe with events such as these happening and more to come in the near future we could expect the big boys to realise that patents are evil? Pretty high hopes but a person could always dream.

Re:Could this be it? (1)

StratoChief66 (841584) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563766)

Hell yeah, I say double the licensing cost per chip just to stick the dick a little deeper in THEM for a change!

Intellectual property (4, Insightful)

uq1 (59540) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563613)

From a previous slashdot article, http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/05/14/07 2201&tid=109&tid=141&tid=155&tid=1 [slashdot.org]

How hypocritical are Microsoft appearing?

On one hand they're trying to teach kids flawed views on intellectual property to ensure that future generations won't pirate as much, and on the other hand they're doing exactly what they're trying to prevent, the theft of intellectual property.

Such sad, sad, little people.

Re:Intellectual property (0, Troll)

hvatum (592775) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563707)

At least they don't have a sad, sad, little dick like you... oh wait, Bill Gates does. :D

nm, you've got a huge dick in comparison with that asshat.

Re:Intellectual property (1)

gtkuhn (823989) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563732)

Perhaps some kid can make a "Thought Thieves" movie about these corps and their patent bashing ways.

Re:Intellectual property (1)

truedfx (802492) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563743)

Damnit, it's not suddenly theft just because it's Microsoft.

Nothing new here... (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563616)

(CSIRO) Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization ....

Looks like more IP / Copyright litigation to me. WLAN has too many standards, too many cooks, too many IP holders to ever really get anywhere without a fight.

I'm interested to see how this works out. A patent is there to protect the inventor and let them make some money... now the big corps (it seems) don't want to play by those rules because it is costing them money?

I don't know anymore... I think the problem would be mitigated much easier if all the lawyers just dropped out of sight, or dead, whichever comes first.

eyes

revenge is sooooo sweet! (2, Informative)

pbjones (315127) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563630)

As an Aussie Taxpayer I am only too happy to see US companies having to fight for technology. CSIRO will loose in the end, but it is so nice to see a fight. Stick your FTA up your FBA

Re:revenge is sooooo sweet! (-1, Flamebait)

hvatum (592775) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563687)

ah, you're from Australia eh?

I'm surprised you managed to take your dick out of a Kangaroo's ass long enough to post on Slashdot.

I'll bet you've some Kangaroo DNA in you given the fact that you don't understand frivilous patents hurt us all you aboriginal asshat.

Re:revenge is sooooo sweet! (2, Informative)

danpat (119101) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563856)

Actually, in this case you're wrong. The CSIRO is essentially a not-for-profit. There are no shares, you can't invest in them, they don't turn a profit.

All the income they make from patents they hold is used to further research, which *does* benefit us. Sure, we're paying for that, but we're not paying to simply generate profit, we're paying for inventions.

In fact, if they recieved no government funding at all, and totally relied on their inventions, patents and licence revenues, market forces would give us a pretty good idea of the actual value of new ideas (and whether it's a sustainable venture).

Re:revenge is sooooo sweet! (1)

OZITNerd (735111) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563688)

Couldnt agree more. I reckon the CSIRO making a few bucks is great, if they invented something ( which they do lots of ) and had the smarts to patent it, good on them. The money made goes back into further research . How is this ever a bad thing, especially when we are talking about non-proprietry / brand specific stuff. It's not like they stopping anyone using their technology, they are just reaping the rewards on their investment in technology research. For govt department they do good stuff - leave em alone.

Re:revenge is sooooo sweet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563829)

"Lose" loses an "o." That's how I remember it.

"Free Trade" my arse (5, Insightful)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563641)

The Australian government, my government, needs to get a clue about the behaviour of the US and US corporations. This is exactly the sort of crap it signed on for when it forced through the "Free Trade" agreement. Frankly, I think we should cut off all formal ties and agreements with the US and have a real free trade environment. At the very least, Australia needs to recognise that the US patent system is irretreavably corrupt and should not be honoured in Australia.

If the US would then similarly like to not honour Australian patents, they're welcome -- given that's what they appear to want anyway.

Re:"Free Trade" my arse (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563721)

Um... the patent in question is not an Australian patent. It's a US patent. What was your point again?

It's true that the US patent system has major problems. It is not true that the US patent system is biased in favor of patent challengers. It is profoundly biased in favor of patent holders. So "this sort of crap", um, was... from patent challengers. Do you even understand what's going on?

As to patent systems: given the problems with the Australian patent system, you know the old saying about people living in glass houses...

Re:"Free Trade" my arse (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563771)

Listen, in the unlikely event that Australia ever gave birth to a multi-national IT company that was worth a damn and large enough for anybody to care about, you can bet they'd be right in line with Apple and the other US IT companies to break this patent.

There is nothing inherently virtuous about Australian companies, there is nothing inherently evil about US companies. Large companies that have the resources to impose their wishes on others will attempt to do so when it suits their needs. This is true whether the company is US, British, German, Japanese or yes, even Australian. This has been true since the beginning of commerce, it will be true until the end.

Australian Government (1)

rbgemini (837601) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563648)

Probably worth pointing out that the CSIRO is an arm of the Australian Government.

Live by the sword, die by the sword (5, Insightful)

kcbrown (7426) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563655)

...although the companies in question certainly won't die if they have to pay royalties here.

If the companies in question want to reap the benefits of the patent system, they have to pay the price of the patent system. But since most three-year-old children show greater maturity than most of these corporations, it's no surprise that these corporations want to reap the benefits without paying the price.

They're just lucky that the organization in question (the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, a research arm of the Australian government) isn't a competitor. Although I suppose in this case it could use this patent to give Australian companies an advantage over their American competition.

It's about damned time the U.S. corporations got a black eye from the bullshit patent situation over here. After all, they're the ones who have been abusing it. I just wish it happened far more often.

Re:Live by the sword, die by the sword (1)

gtkuhn (823989) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563744)

I say the Aussies should cut em off. Don't allow any US company to use your patent at any price.

Re:Live by the sword, die by the sword (1)

ingo23 (848315) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563836)

...although the companies in question certainly won't die if they have to pay royalties here.
Of course they won't die! In fact it will not cost them much - because it will be you who will pay that $4 per chipset.

You reckon this Aussie patent is bad... (4, Informative)

Goonie (8651) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563656)

There's another one that's far, far broader, and the people enforcing it are far, far greedier. There's an Australian company which owns the patent for any use of non-coding DNA [abc.net.au] , and are shaking down medical research labs doing pure science for royalties.

I think that there should be a blanket patent exemption for pure research, though I'm not quite sure how one should define the exemption.

AUS v US, GOV v Private industry (3, Interesting)

not-quite-rite (232445) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563671)

I read this and couldn't help but laugh out loud.

6 very large, very well backed AMERICAN companies, are going to take an AUSTRALIAN government backed RESEARCH ORGANISATION in an IP battle.

Right after the free trade agreement was struck, that is meant to bring our IP laws into line with the US?

I hope CSIRO doesn't back down. Stick it to the companies. The same companies that would use those laws to screw anyone else, who infringes on their IP.

C'mon AUSSIE C'mon!

Re:AUS v US, GOV v Private industry (4, Interesting)

ErichTheWebGuy (745925) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563872)

As an American, I have to agree with you. These assholes constantly stick it to people with their patent portfolios, now they are tired of paying crazy royalties (the same royalties they all charge others, by the way), so they are gonna try to launch some lame-ass legal battle to try to steal some technology that (apparently) is rightfully owned by CSIRO?

That's complete bullshit. I also hope that CSIRO does not back down, and that the companies effectively end up paying $12 per chip, to reimburse CSIRO for its legal costs. I am quite sure that at that point a more sane company will step up with consumer WLAN technology who is happy to pay $4 per chip. I am also quite sure that unless they back the fuck off, I won't buy products from the companies mentioned in TFA anymore.

Kinda hypocritical but... (2, Insightful)

Thornkin (93548) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563689)

I love the way these companies continue to file for thousands of patents themselves but when a competitor's patent gets in the way, they want to squash it. I'm all for them squashing patents. The more the merrier as far as I'm concerned. I haven't seen a software/algorithm patents that helped foster competition or reduce prices for the consumer. Part of me hopes that patent issues for the big companies will help them realize that the patent system is in need of massive reform. Right after that my realist side recognizes that the big companies will just play the system like they always do. Sigh.

Re:Kinda hypocritical but... (1)

uberdave (526529) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563764)

Patents are not designed to foster competition or reduce prices for the competition. Patents are designed to be short term protection for inventors to allow them to recoup development costs.

no relevance but cool (3, Insightful)

Slotty (562298) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563723)

The CSIRO has their research labs in the side of a mountain. You have to cross a gaping chasm by a bridge to get to it.
Any government funded organization that is built in to a mountain protected by a gaping chasm is not going to worry to much about anything.

Our scientists thought it up we should keep the $4 per chip not like they can't charge an extra $4 for a notebook computer

Re:no relevance but cool (1)

Quelain (256623) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563819)

Which one?

Re:no relevance but cool (1)

Br'fin (170009) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563846)

$4 extra on a notebook is nothing. But these and other companies are working on low-cost wireless devices. $4 per chip set means a heck of a lot more to say Nintendo with their Wireless DS, and upcoming Wireless Revolution.

Apple has base stations of various flavors. MS is going to have wireless in Xbox 360 as an add-on, etc. I can see the interest these and other companies have in bringing the price of this tech down, especially if they tried to navigate for bulk rates and failed.

Good!... (2, Insightful)

Dr_Marvin_Monroe (550052) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563726)

Let me first say that I strongly dislike what's going on with patents now, software and otherwise.

I like that inventors get a chance to make a buck off their inventions, that's the productive and creative part that congress orig. talked about when they granted patents.

I'm strongly displeased at the use/mis-use of patents today. They're used as stragic weapons against competetors. They're used to block new technology. They're used to destroy governments and individual rights (think Africa and South America with AIDS drugs). The current patent crap (for instance, patenting of genetic material found in natural foods and herbs) is simply a means to give multinational corps. final fascist control over the world economy. All work will have to be for them, because you'll need their protection and cross-licensing to do anything. You will not be able to wipe your ass with leaves grown in your own back yard if Bayer finds some "cooling gell" in that species that they want to patent. Software patents are making it illegal to work or create for yourself, as without the protection of MS/HP/DELL, your thoughts will have been patented by someone else and you will be breaking the law by using a wheel of your own creation (even if you didn't copy anything).

But in this case, I'll settle for "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." MS/HP/DELL/Netgear/etc. want it their way when it helps them and call for invalidation/threats/whatever/manuvering/spin when they have to pay.... Time for you suckers to pay....I hope they ream you raw too, as I'll happily know that you are eating part of that $4 just to keep the sales numbers up. Better yet, I'd love to see you buy 10M of those chips, only to have them sitting in your fab plants because nobody wants to buy your product at the inflated price.

If they want real reform, they should help to change patent law away from the mess it's in now, otherwise these industry blow-hards should just shut up and keep paying! You know, you can't win all the time..

They don't really want reform though, they simply want control and they're mad at the fact that they DON'T have the patent. They'd do just the same thing roles reversed.

SCrew the CSIRO (1, Troll)

_merlin (160982) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563739)

I'm an Australian, and a researcher and an advocate of implementation patents, but I say screw the CSIRO. The CSIRO exists for the sole purpose of scamming government funding. They steal other researchers' ideas. They build inferior technologies. But they get all the attention and money. I hope they lose this court case.

Also, if they lose this case, maybe more people will succeed in overturning pthese stupid conceptual patents.

Re:SCrew the CSIRO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563797)

After they screw the csiro they'd probably charge you an arm an a leg for stealing other aussie inventions, such as the cork hat! Damn American's have taken our Vegemite, Ugg Boots.... ! They're turning into my Chinese bootlegging friends!

Re:SCrew the CSIRO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563857)

Well you dont know much about australian science or history then ...
Id be embarressed to be that ignorant about the highs (as well as the lows) of the CSIRO.

Please More (1)

rxd (523844) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563740)

Yes, please let's have more law suites like this, regardless the merit. Maybe it will finally help the industry to realize the harm and absurdity of software patents.

Did wireless lans exist before 1994? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563770)

This patent was filed on November 23, 1993.

I don't wireless lans as described in the patent existing back then.

I think the problem here is that its an Aussie research institute that holds the patent. If it was an American company, they wouldn't complain.

From the patent: (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563773)

This Patent is not broad as in "vague and meaningless" - rather, it contains many specific claims, and thus only affects certain technologies.

The "Background of the Invention" section is written in plain English instead of Patentese, and includes the following:

(If it sounds dated, well, the application was filed on the 23rd of November, 1993)

"Accordingly, the need arises for a LAN to which such portable devices can be connected by means of a wireless or radio link.

Such wireless LANs are known, however, hitherto they have been substantially restricted to low data transmission rates. In order to achieve widespread commercial acceptability, it is necessary to have a relatively high transmission rate and therefore transmit on a relatively high frequency, of the order of 1 GHz or higher. As will be explained hereafter, radio transmission at such high frequencies encounters a collection of unique problems.

One wireless LAN which is commercially available is that sold by Motorola under the trade name ALTAIR. This system operates at approximately 18 GHz, however, the maximum data transmission rate is limited to approximately 3-6 Mbit/s. A useful review of this system and the problems of wireless reception at these frequencies and in "office" environments is contained in "Radio Propagation and Anti-multipath Techniques in the WIN Environment", James E. Mitzlaff IEEE Network Magazine November 1991 pp. 21-26.

This engineering designer concludes that the inadequate performance, and the large size, expense and power consumption of the hardware needed to adaptively equalize even a 10 Mbit/s data signal are such that the problems of multipath propagation cannot thereby be overcome in Wireless In-Building Network (WIN) systems. Similarly, spread spectrum techniques which might also be used to combat multipath problems consume too much bandwidth (300 MHz for 10 Mbits/s) to be effective. A data rate of 100 Mbit/s utilizing this technology would therefore consume 3 GHz of bandwidth.

Instead, the solution adopted by Motorola and Mitzlaff is a directional antenna system with 6 beams for each antenna resulting in 36 possible transmission paths to be periodically checked by the system processor in order to locate the "best quality" path and "switch" the antennae accordingly. This procedure adds substantial bulk and cost to the system. This procedure is essentially the conversion of a multipath transmission problem into a single path transmission environment by the use of directional antennae.

OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The object of the present invention is to provide a wireless LAN in a confined multipath transmission environment having a high bit rate even through the reciprocal of the data or information bit rate (the data "period") is short relative to the time delay differences between significant transmission paths. ....

Preferably, transmission is enhanced by the use of one or more of the following techniques, namely interactive channel sounding, forward error correction with redundancy sufficient for non-interactive correction, modulation with redundancy sufficient for interactive error correction by re-transmission of at least selected data, and the choice of allocation of data between sub-channels.

The radio transmission is also preferably divided into small packets of data each of which is transmitted over a time period in which the transmission characteristics over the predetermined range are relatively constant.

The encoding of the data is preferably carried out on an ensemble of carriers each costituting a sub-channel and having a different frequency with the modulation of each individual carrier preferably being multi-level modulation of carrier amplitude and/or phase (mQAM).

Re:From the patent: (1)

Neva (630016) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563840)

OFDM was originally developed for the military, then after a while found it's way to civilian use. Has a fair share of applications (basically anywhere to reduce signal reflection errors over RF transmissions), and I'm surprised that a company managed to patent this.

Then again, with what I've read about the patent-fee funded US patent office, it's a very ugly case of "follow the money". After all, they're supposed to be controlling the companies that are keeping them alive.

Have to say that... (5, Interesting)

darnok (650458) | more than 9 years ago | (#12563786)

if I had such a patent in my pocket, I'd licence it out on terms that said I could renegotiate any licence if and when my "client" decided to sue me for anything whatsoever.

In other words, you can licence it from me for $4 per unit sold. Complain about the patent; if you lose, it becomes $8 per unit. Complain about anything else, and it becomes $12 per unit. Still want to complain, or am I now your newest bestest buddy...?

Almost seems like common sense, which IP law in general is lacking across the board.

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12563830)

According to the patent, CSIRO did invent it....

So good luck boys!
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