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CSIRO Wireless Patent Reaffirmed In US Court

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the i-was-here-first-nyah-nyah dept.

147

An anonymous reader writes ""The CSIRO has won a landmark US legal battle against Buffalo Technology, under which it could receive royalties from every producer of wireless local area network (WLAN) products worldwide." From the article: "The patent, granted to CSIRO in 1996, encompasses elements of the 802.11a/g wireless technology that is now an industry standard. It stems from a system developed by CSIRO in the early '90s, 'to exchange large amounts of information wirelessly at high speed, within environments such as offices and homes,' said a CSIRO spokeswoman."

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147 comments

patents are 10 years long (-1)

irritating environme (529534) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859808)

1996....2006...isn't that 10 years?

Re:patents are 10 years long (3, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859894)

20. Patents are 20 years long.

Re:patents are 10 years long (1)

LaughingLinuxMan (872028) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860590)

More precisely: I believe US patents are valid 20 years from *date of application*. Also if you publish your own patentable idea or sell a patentable product, I believe you have one year to file an application. If you want to litigate you must notify the public that your patent is "pending." You can then litigate once the patent has been issued. IANAL; consult one before you start the patent process.

LLM

Re:patents are 10 years long (3, Informative)

bluephone (200451) | more than 7 years ago | (#16861456)

Even more specifically, it's 20 years from the date of application or 17 years from teh date of issue, whichever is longer. This helps prevent entities form being shorted if it takes ten years to work through the patent system before being granted.

Re:patents are 10 years long (1)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862394)

That's US. Did CSIRO file a US patent, or just an Aussie patent?

Re:patents are 10 years long (3, Informative)

OldAndSlow (528779) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862792)

An Aussie patent only applies in Aussieland, not in the US. Ergo, a ruling in US court means they have a US patent.

Patents Last 20 years (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16859918)

Yeah, except patents last twenty years, not ten.

Hm (5, Funny)

Tarlus (1000874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859810)

Well, as long as I can continue to surf the internet while on the john, I really don't care who owns the wireless patent.

sucks to be them... (2, Insightful)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859814)

Honestly, if anything will scream for patent reform, it's when the cities with municipal wi-fi start getting sued...

Re:sucks to be them... (5, Insightful)

lightyear4 (852813) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859902)

why would those utilizing the technology be sued? surely the manufacturers of such equipment are those most directly affected?

Re:sucks to be them... (1)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860406)

Ask Darl McBride....

Re:sucks to be them... (2, Informative)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860524)

why would those utilizing the technology be sued?

Because rightly or wrongly, a patent grants exclusive rights to make, sell or use an invention. The end users are infringing on the patent by using the technology, and unless they got explicit indemnification from the manufacturer, they can be sued.

The main reason that they probably won't get sued is because it's simply easier to extract a lot of money from a few manufacturers than tiny amounts of money from each of millions of users.

Re:sucks to be them... (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860774)

Well, technically, a patent gives you the exclusive right to stop others from practicing the invention.

It's not just a semantic quibble I'm making here, the difference is that the patent holder has to actively enforce their patent, and typically that is not an economically feasible thing to do against infringers who don't have deep pockets.

Re:sucks to be them... (1)

Sj0 (472011) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862484)

There's money in manufacturers because presumably they want to continue marketing their products, but wouldn't the only thing a manufacturer could possibly do to a person by suing them is force people to stop using said products?

Re:sucks to be them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16860756)

It is a cheap hack designed to scare consumers into checking if the vendor has paid thier fairs. Also If they are in negotiations with a manufacturor and the manufacturor is holding out for a better price, It is a way to bent the negotiations thier way.

I doubt any of it would stand in a court. But it is a lesson taught be Microsoft and the SCO fiasco. Almost as soon as SCO started making claims, microsoft jumped on the bandwagon. Then once microsoft funneled money into SCO via some investment group from canida (outside US law too) they jumped up with the campain of by microsoft we own our pattents and the code we use campain with the "we will exhonorate any end user suied for something in our product."

It is a meaningless abuse of the legal systems and people have done it often enought for the GP to asume it was a concern.

Re:sucks to be them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16862054)

"Then once microsoft funneled money into SCO via some investment group from canida"
So is that how the current conspiracy goes?
Show me the proof.

Re:sucks to be them... (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 7 years ago | (#16863026)

As soon as the manufacturers go bankrupt from the suits the cities become liable if they don't take down all their equipment. Otherwise, tiny shell companies could email out a bunch of copies of say freetype binaries with the patented hinting code turned on, get sued into bankruptcy, and then everyone who downloaded the binaries would be scot free. It doesn't work that way.

Re:sucks to be them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16859922)

Which cities are manufacturing their own Wi-Fi hardware?

Re:sucks to be them... (5, Funny)

AssCork (769414) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860000)

San Fran CISCO!

Thanks - I'll be here all night.

Re:sucks to be them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16860042)

Troll he may usually be, but that was funny.

Re:sucks to be them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16862332)

San Fran CISCO!
Of course the name is similar. The company's named after the City.

Re:sucks to be them... (1)

rolyatknarf (973068) | more than 7 years ago | (#16861058)

OOPS - gave a mod point to the wrong post. I'm a bad man.

Re:sucks to be them... (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862368)

Actually this patent isnt too bad. The CSIRO has it which means they wont abuse it.

Just imagine the screams if Microsoft had it.

Re:sucks to be them... (1)

rodgster (671476) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862642)

>Just imagine the screams if Microsoft had it.

We'd all have to pay $699 per wireless device (or was that per CPU)?

Re:sucks to be them... (1)

Xyrus (755017) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862940)

Come on! Sing it with me now.....

We all live in a patent submarine,
A patent submarine,
A patent submarine.......

~X~

Who to the what, now? (4, Informative)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859816)

Something that might have been helpful to include in the story submission:
*Note for International media: CSIRO is the national research agency of the Australian Government. It undertakes scientific research for the purpose of assisting Australian industry, furthering the interests of the Australian community and contributing to the achievement of national objectives.

(Source: a previous press release [csiro.au] about the case)

Re:Who to the what, now? (1)

Captain Jack Taylor (976465) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860124)

Which I believe puts it against their charter to demand royalties from anyone using their research. That's GENERALLY the case for such research agencies. If it's not in Australia, then it's back to patent reform.

Re:Who to the what, now? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860308)

What part of Australian industry, Australian economy and Australian national interests did you miss there? The CSIRO should be using this patent, and any other patents they have, to lock non-Australian companies out of this market. I think the real shame is the fact that it has taken them 10 years to do anything. But, hey, 10 years from lab to market, that's standard.

Re:Who to the what, now? (1)

DJCacophony (832334) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860738)

The CSIRO should be using this patent, and any other patents they have, to lock non-Australian companies out of this market

They COULD do that, but then the companies would make them anyways, and then the market leaders in wireless networking equipment would refuse to ship to Australia, and before long the Aussies will be begging for their wireless back.

Re:Who to the what, now? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860854)

huh? Can you put that into coherent human language please? They can't just "make them anyways", the CSIRO has a patent which is valid for at least the next 10 years, they can take companies that "make them anyways" to the cleaners. As for refusing to ship to Australia, yeah, I can see you justifying that to your share holders. "Oh, Australia, yeah, they pissed us off, so we're not shipping to them anymore. Huh? What's that? Abandoning profits? Uhh, yeah, I guess technically we are, yeah. Oh, that's nice and pink, what's that?"

Re:Who to the what, now? (1)

reason (39714) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862868)

Not at all. CSIRO's research is not fully funded by the government and the organisation is obliged to seek around 30% of its funding from external sources such as royalties. CSIRO researchers are encouraged to patent commercially valuable work and the organisation's policy is to give staff bonuses if their patents earn the organisation royalties.

Re:Who to the what, now? (3, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860662)

...agency of the Australian Government

Goodness. A dingo ate my wifi!

Yes, I learned everything I know about Australia from Slashdot, Fosters commercials,
and Crocodile Dundee movies.

Say What? (1)

justkarl (775856) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859886)

How can they collect royalties from Buffalo for every wireless device sold in the world? Does buffalo technology own the patent for that? Wouldn't that mean that companies like Netgear would have to pay them to manufacture wireless gear? I thought that the 802.11 standard was just that, not a patent.

Re:Say What? (4, Informative)

StArSkY (128453) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859938)

it's called precedent. By winning this one, every other company will pay rather than fight, because the judges will refer to the buffalo case.

Re:Say What? (1)

KokorHekkus (986906) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860226)

it's called precedent. By winning this one, every other company will pay rather than fight, because the judges will refer to the buffalo case.
Precedents only cover the actual jurisdiction of the issuing court. And add that Common Law http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_law [wikipedia.org] is not the predominant system of law in the world, Civil Law http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_law_(legal_syst em) [wikipedia.org] is. And Civil Law places a lot less weight on precedents than Common Law.

Re:Say What? (1)

k_187 (61692) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860336)

true, but to get royalties from an american company, one only needs to sue in america yes?

Re:Say What? (1)

Tmack (593755) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860506)

true, but to get royalties from an american company, one only needs to sue in america yes?

From the article, though it wasn't layed out very clearly, it appears they are doing this as a counter-suit: the other US based companies filed to invalidate the patents in question, CSIRO tried filing that they were immune to the US lawsuit since they are a foreign governmental body, judge dismissed their claim and allowed the invalidation claims to proceed, so CSIRO filed counter-suit for patent infringement.

tm

Re:Say What? (2, Informative)

StArSkY (128453) | more than 7 years ago | (#16861078)

the bigger picture

CSIRO has been "negotiating" licences for the patents with LOTS of copmnanies, including buffalo, dell, microsoft, HP, netgear etc etc etc.

Buffalo file for invalidation
CSIRO claimed immunity (worth a shot, but obviously failed)
then counter-sue for unpaid royalties.

So it sounds more complicated than it is. The counter-suit is the logical response to an invalidation suit.

and yeah, plenty of US companies to sue. don't have to worry about the rest of the world if you can sue them all in the US

Re:Say What? (2, Informative)

TekPolitik (147802) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860436)

Precedents only cover the actual jurisdiction of the issuing court.

More to the point, precedents only cover questions of law - it does not cover questions of fact. As between Buffalo and the CSIRO the answers to the questions of fact are set in stone (subject to any appeal) not because of precedent, but because of the principles of res judicata and issue estoppel. As between anybody else (who is not claiming some rights through Buffalo) and the CSIRO, there is nothing to prevent a court from reaching entirely opposite conclusions on the facts, since unlike precedent these two principles only apply between the parties to the original case. A court that reaches different conclusions on the facts may well find the patent is invalid (but note that I have not looked at the patent and have no idea what degree of validity it might have).

Re:Say What? (1)

KokorHekkus (986906) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860648)

Well made point and clarifying. I was just pointing out the most obvious differences in worldwide jurisdictions.

Re:Say What? (1)

1trickymicky (924393) | more than 7 years ago | (#16859948)

Thats the point, CSIRO came up with the standard and everyone just started using it.

Re:Say What? (1)

justkarl (775856) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860132)

I thought it was a IEEE standard(3rd party)

Re:Say What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16860422)

Patented technologies have a habit of becoming standards these days.

Re:Say What? (1)

StArSkY (128453) | more than 7 years ago | (#16861172)

yeah there should be a royal-free requirement on any patent work submited for standardisation but that's a whole new kettle of fish

Re:Say What? (3, Informative)

Tmack (593755) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860022)

How can they collect royalties from Buffalo for every wireless device sold in the world? Does buffalo technology own the patent for that? Wouldn't that mean that companies like Netgear blah blah blah

RTFA... to answer all your questions, YES. They (CSIRO) own the patent, which evidently covers technology that lead to the standard and would mean royalties from most wireless (802.11a/g) devices worldwide, and they are going after the others (Netgear was specifically mentioned) as well...seriously, RTFA!

tm

CSIRO Patents are a good thing (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16859976)

I really think that having the CSIRO earning money for every WLAN access point is a reason why the patent system is a Good Thing (tm). Not greedy corporations making money, just an honest government research institute getting credit for their work.

Just look at their research on the new Air Guitar for example

Re:CSIRO Patents are a good thing (3, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860632)

I want my tax dollars paid back, with interest, then. If the government supported any part of the research, it only follows that the government funders (aka taxpyers) should reap the rewards.

Re:CSIRO Patents are a good thing (4, Insightful)

MEGAMAID (791988) | more than 7 years ago | (#16861422)

Well, we'd get them back indirectly. The CSIRO has stated in their press release that they plan to use any money from royalty payments to fund further research. This means that we, the taxpayers, don't have to.

Re:CSIRO Patents are a good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16861590)

You're not in the administration business, are you?

Re:CSIRO Patents are a good thing (1)

shibashaba (683026) | more than 7 years ago | (#16861684)

I'm sure it was paid back with a highly absurd interest rate from all the sales and income tax on wireless equipment.

Re:CSIRO Patents are a good thing (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862458)

You clearly have no idea what sort of stuff the CSIRO does.
They are the leaders in many scientific fields which directly filters down to everyone in the world.

Re:CSIRO Patents are a good thing (1)

paniq (833972) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862350)

Actually, a lot of greedy corporations making money in this case, and the original inventor having to go to court to get some compensation. Was it a greedy corporation that had filed the patent, they would be all over this way before WLAN would have reached the mass market. Hasn't Patent law been invented to protect institutions and individuals from exploitation? How come everybody seems to give a shit? Then again, it's profitable to shut up about your patent and pretend not to notice. The technology will be marketed, the infrastructure is set up, and right at this point you start collecting the fees. Remember? Fraunhofer Institute did it the same way with mp3 a few years back.

Re:CSIRO Patents are a good thing (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#16863012)

>an honest government research institute getting credit for their work.

Did they speak up during the standards process? 802.11(mumble) was hardly a secret or obscure event.

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16860030)

Well that will be a good revenue stream for this underfunded Australia Government Department...

If the CSIRO had any balls.. (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860064)

they would use this finding to stop the manufacture of all infringing devices in the world, except the ones that are made in Australia. Seeing as the charter of the CSIRO is to produce research which exclusively benefits Australian business, that's what they should be doing.

Re:If the CSIRO had any balls.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16860482)

Australia is a small insignificant island with only a few people. The benefit to Australian business IS for the rest of the world to use our tech.

Although I'm not smart enough to have any patents of my own, I work for an outfit that started on the back of a number of CSIRO patents which were developed into a private business, and which ultimately was bought out by a publicly listed US company with a huge reputation in our industry for innovation, deep pockets and worldwide manufacturing and distribution resources... as a result, the boffins here can continue to invent cool stuff.

Re:If the CSIRO had any balls.. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860628)

I think our US friends might disagree with the notion that population count is a determination of the importance of a country.

Regardless of your particular nationalist preference, the CSIRO exists to invent stuff, aid in the commercialisation of that stuff by Australian industry and use whatever legal protections are available to prevent non-Australian industry from doing the same. What happens to the Australian businesses once they have been established is a different matter altogether. Typically, Australian businesses don't pay any royalties to the CSIRO for use of their research, but should an Australian company be bought out by a non-Australian investor, that relationship will change.. usually a royalty agreement will be worked out.

Re:If the CSIRO had any balls.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16861634)

Australia is a small insignificant island
what does that make texas? a teensy weeny state of america?

Re:If the CSIRO had any balls.. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16860792)

Never happen. Australia's semiconductor industry is too small (does it even exist?) to make this a realistic option.

More likely is the CSIRO takes its royalties from companies worldwide, and ploughs them into further research in this and other areas.

Re:If the CSIRO had any balls.. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860896)

Shya, it's not like any of these devices are physically made in the USA. They're all built in Taiwan and China. But the devices are designed and sold by US companies.. and there's plenty of Australian companies that do exactly the same thing.

Re:If the CSIRO had any balls.. (1)

Pseudonym (62607) | more than 7 years ago | (#16861476)

Be fair, now. Those air guitar t-shirts don't come cheap.

Short history of the Australian computer industry (2, Insightful)

ynotds (318243) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862242)

Before the end of the 1940s CSIRO's predecessor developed and test ran the world's "fifth electronic stored program computer", later known as CSIRAC [unimelb.edu.au] . In 1954 widely venerated Prime Minister Robert Menzies decided that CSIRO should drop research on computers in favour of cloud seeding. (The back stories would fill a book without getting to Pig Iron Bob presenting my undergraduate degree.)

Then in the early 1980s microprocessor technology faciliated the emergence of a promising embryonic computer hardware industry, but quiz king turned science minister Barry Jones announced that we had already missed the boat, and corporate misdeals soon mopped up the few threatening survivors. (I prepared supplements covering 40+ local maunfacturers for Australian Micro Computerworld in each of its two years of publication, 1983-84, before it was swept away by the PCWorld/Macworld tidal waves, having put on a government-supported professional development conference for those manufacturers in 1983.)

That's all folks!

Re:If the CSIRO had any balls.. (5, Interesting)

Petra_von_Kant (825352) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862312)

As an ex-CSIRO scientist from the early 1990's who personally developed several diagnostic assays for chlamydia trachomatis (look it up) which were commissioned by a certain large Swedish pharmaceutical company, I can confidently say, that the work done wasn't solely for the benefit of Australian companies.

For some years, the CSIRO has had a policy of being a hired gun, so to speak, for anyone prepared to hand over the readies, and further, applies pressure to the various divisions, to be self-funding to a certain degree (in my particular group, it was 30% but that was 12 years ago now).

The current Australian goverment, is, unfortunately, a conservative one, and is only too happy to put pressure on the CSIRO and other research institutes to get their funding from elsewhere, rather than from the public purse (well, gives them more money to piss up against the wall for defence et cetera).

10 years, however, is about par for the course with anything at the CSIRO, as it is now top heavy with administrators whose sole aim in life is to ensure that their arses are protected. The truly great and good scientists from there have all buggered orf or taken their generous redundany pay and retired. Me? I was headhunted over 10 years ago and I don't really miss it the way it is now.

Rather I yearn for the days before some idiot decided that bean counters or people with an MBA should be in charge, where you didn't have to attend 5 meetings a day or spend time worrying about your ever shrinking contract and were allowed to get on with the genuine science.

OK, spleen vented ..........

Re:If the CSIRO had any balls.. (1)

bug1 (96678) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862390)

"Seeing as the charter of the CSIRO is to produce research which exclusively benefits Australian business"

Where does it mention the word or imply exclusivity in their charter ?

http://www.csiro.au/csiro/content/standard/psod,,. html [csiro.au]

+5 insightful.. damn moderators are all trolls as well...

Re:If the CSIRO had any balls.. (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862574)

Reciprocation would be a bitch.

Re:If the CSIRO had any balls.. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862654)

Well it's not like Australian companies can take patented DARPA research and make products from it. Whereas a US company can use the product-of-public-funds defense if DARPA tries to sue them for violating patents.. obviously that doesn't extend to companies in other nations. So there already is a history of special-treatment-for-your-own-citizens, and Australia wouldn't be throwing the first stone here.

Looks like a legit patent.... (4, Informative)

Kenja (541830) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860186)

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/5487069.html [freepatentsonline.com]
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/5487069.pdf [freepatentsonline.com]

Its more or less a means of generating multi pathed radio signals with CRC checking from packet data. So long as they're not greedy with the royalties, more power to em.

Re:Looks like a legit patent.... (4, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860460)

Thanks for the links. My fear initially was that this was just another craptastic submarine patent.

But here's a question. 802.11a has been a standard a long time, in development long before its acceptance. Why is it that the patents that apply to the technology that this standard is based off just NOW coming to light? Why were patent/royalty issue not brought up in 1999 or earlier?

It seems kind of shady to me to wait until after the standard was released (1999), after wide spread US adoption (2001), after world wide adoption (2003), until years later when the technology is so prolific that companies that have based their entire success on the technologies covered by the patents have no option to change to a non-infringing technology. Or has this been a 7+ year long court case?

-Rick

Re:Looks like a legit patent.... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860702)

It seems kind of shady to me to wait until after the standard was released ...

Pretty much the definition of a submarine patent: sit on it until there's money to be made.

Re:Looks like a legit patent.... (3, Informative)

sk0pe (614508) | more than 7 years ago | (#16861230)

Uhh, yeah. You're ignoring the fact that this suit is a COUNTER-suit. They're suing Buffalo to prevent the patent being rule invalid. Sounds like CSIRO were happy to continue as things were until the manufacturers decided to apply for an invalidation of the patent.

Re:Looks like a legit patent.... (2, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862680)

No argument from me. It's not like I actually read the article.

Re:Looks like a legit patent.... (4, Informative)

Kyro (302315) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862032)

From what I can remember (no source sorry) the reason it took so long was because until the US-Australia FTA was signed 2 years ago or whatever, there was no reason for Intel/Buffalo etc to be worried about getting sued.

When the FTA was signed, they realised they could get sued so they went to court to invalidate the patent and CSIRO counter-claimed.

Something along those grounds anyway.

Re:Looks like a legit patent.... (1)

Rohan427 (521859) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862348)

IANAL, but IIRC, under patent law, if it's in the public domain for a year or more, then infringement can't be claimed. If they sat on it all this time, and did nothing, then how can they have any case in the US against anyone? Any patent lawyers out there?

On the other hand, if indeed they could do nothing legally until recently - whenever the US-Australian FTA was signed - other than write letters, complain, etc., then maybe that is enough grounds in court for pursuing infringment. If they can show a paper trail that over the years they've complained about their patent being used by , then I'd say they may have a right to be paid now.

On the other hand, maybe the best solution for the common good, is to allow them to license their technology going forward, but not allow them to charge retroactively.

PGA

Re:Looks like a legit patent.... (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860466)

WTF... Does not compute...

1. What does this have to do with a 2.4GHz band (it refers to 10GHz+)?
2. This is very close to a technique which is heavily used in CDMA. Wireless makes little use of it, while CDMA explicitly uses multipath for signal quality improvement. So if this patent is what I think it is they should be suing Nokia, Quallcomm, Samsung and the lot. Not Buffallo.

Re:Looks like a legit patent.... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860820)

Buffalo is an easy first target.

Now they can go after the big boys and expect high seimans.... hehe, little EE joke in there somewhere ...

Re:Looks like a legit patent.... (1)

donaldm (919619) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862296)

CSIRO is a Government Organisation and is normally very helpful to Australian industry to the point of giving away their intellectual property. You have to remember that in Australia anything developed by a Government organisation is normally for the benefit of the country since it is paid for by the taxpayer (after all they do provide the funds) so the organisation is not greedy since all revenue ends up in government coffers. Of course if the Government gets greedy then that is a different matter.

Seriously, Australia... (0)

l3prador (700532) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860202)

WTF, mate?

Re:Seriously, Australia... (1)

tymbow (725036) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860426)

All your Base (Stations) are belong to Oz.

submarine patents are so grand (0)

openright (968536) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860416)

Look at trends and guess where things must go.
Patent some product which is not yet obvious to everyone, but will be as trends move that way.
Do some minimal development of the "idea".

Wait.

Now when everyone is using your "idea" which is now obvious (without your help).

Cash out by suing everyone.

Re:submarine patents are so grand (1)

jdigital (84195) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860538)

RTFP. Read the f-ing patent. This is hardly a submarine patent, they go into great detail about to to design an implement such a system.

CSIRO Rocks! (2, Interesting)

jdigital (84195) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860468)

Don't knock the CSIRO. At one of their 'Double Helix' club meetings I learned how to program my calculator to generate a Mandelbrot set. Might not be so much of a feat to you TI fanboys, but this was on an HP-42S (which I still own & use) - a non-graphing calculator.

Later I was placed in a summer program where I learned matlab whilst working at a steel testing lab.

Cool stuffs.

Re:CSIRO Rocks! (1)

allrong (445675) | more than 7 years ago | (#16861040)

You just provided me with our [csiro.au] internal newsletter's quote of the week. Thank you!

Patent and standards (3, Insightful)

microbee (682094) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860552)

A technology will have a very hard time being standardized if someone holds the patent. However, in this case and others, nobody realized the patent issue when it was being pushed as a standard. Many years later, when everyone is using it, the patent holder comes out and claims the ownership and starts to collect payments. It's too late to correct the mistake. If the patent holder had been saying so from the beginning, it would not have had a chance to grow such a market value.

I think there should be some laws to restrict such a practice.

Re:Patent and standards (1)

gid13 (620803) | more than 7 years ago | (#16861178)

You do a good job of describing one of the problems. I'm not normally one to advocate the crazy free-market everything approach, but I'm not positive that more regulation is the ideal approach here. Maybe patents aren't as necessary as everyone seems to think.

Re:Patent and standards (1)

atmurray (983797) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862000)

Actually what generally happens is that a technology will have a very hard time being standardized unless companies with lots of say in the ratification process hold patents they can enforce. This means that the standardization process will tend to avoid patents from bodies not involved in the standardization meetings. So the only way for an outsider to get a patent on a key area is to do exactly what the CSIRO have done in this case. Many standards ignore "the best" technologies just because outsider companies hold the patents. This happens in the 3GPP all the time and I'd presume it happens with the IEEE too. As an example: The 3GPP has held onto using Turbo codes for Forward Error correction in 3G/UMTS years past its used by date, even though LDPC codes have been around for years and are considered superior (and have already been used in DVB et al). The reason being: certain companies involved in the 3GPP have key patents in Turbo code implementations and would loose out if a rival technology was selected.

Re:Patent and standards (2, Interesting)

mr_tenor (310787) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862140)

A technology will have a very hard time being standardized if someone holds the patent.


I don't think you have much insight into the process of making standards nowadays. Do you think the companies involved are charities?

Hey! That's mine. (3, Funny)

mhokie (988228) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860594)

'""The CSIRO has won...'
Incorrectly starting quotes with two (2) quotation marks has been patented by me! I'd like my $0.15 in royalties please.

bad for CSIRO? (1, Interesting)

grapeape (137008) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860766)

In the long run isnt this going to prove bad for CSIRO? In the future as other "standards" are adopted will anyone want the CSIRO involved and will any of their achievements be looked at as something to include rather than something to avoid? While I understand their reasoning I really think this was very shortsighted and could easily push the CSIRO into the relm of being virtually ignored by much of that standards community. I sat in on IEEE meetings for the 802.11g standard and saw shocked to learn the truth about how "standards" work and how many companies try quietly to slip in their own usually proprietary idea's to they and gain leverage after the standard is adopted. I guess it's no different than politicians tacking unrelated affinity pork to bills and resolutions, maybe I just dont understand all the facts but it seems sad that organizations who's own bylaws state their purpose is the national and/or common good appear to pander to the same tactics as the corporate world.

I do have one question though, where was CSIRO when the standards for 802.11a/b/g were being created? And why didnt they speak up?

Not bad for CSIRO (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16862768)

As a patent holder, you are not required to (ever) speak up prior to someone using your invention if you're not involed. 802.11a/b/g are defined by IEEE. Maybe CSIRO isn't involved in the IEEE - they don't have to and there shouldn't be any need. IEEE is a standards body, CSIRO does R&D.

The number of cases where a patent holder waits until a patent is worth something before doing anything are numerous: GIF and RSA to name but two well known cases.

It is similar for OpenBSD and CARP (vs Cisco's VRRP) - even though they've asked Cisco if their are ok, Cisco not responding does not give them the green light - and to this day I'm not aware of Cisco responding.

In the end, the only way you can settle a dispute/question over "do you infringe" is in court.

As for CSIRO, well, they came up with the idea years before anyone else and have successfully patented a very worthwhile technology. To me that makes them a very useful research and development centre, probably the kind of place you want to be involved with so that you can share in the research and royalties from future patents.

Further, there is nothing about patents that means they cannot be used "for the common good". In this case maybe it is more fool of those that sued CSIRO in the first place.

It would be nice if most of the replies on this thread just "got over it".

10 years too long (2, Interesting)

nrlightfoot (607666) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860892)

Considering the rate of innovation these days, a 20 year patent period is far too long. A good first step for patent reform would be to reduce the length of patents by half or more.

Re:10 years too long (1)

shibashaba (683026) | more than 7 years ago | (#16861750)

Just because a company is ready to patent something doesn't mean they're ready to produce something right away. Reducing the amount of time a patent is good for reduces the value so companies won't bother with R&D nearly as much. Patents need to be given out on a stricter basis.

Reciprocity? (2, Interesting)

bdwoolman (561635) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860954)

...as a foreign government body meant it was immune from lawsuits

IANAL but I thought that if you are immune to suits you also cannot bring them. I know from experience that if you have diplomatic immunity you cannot be sued in a country of your accredited residence (nice), but you also cannot bring suit there. Also did I read correctly that this suit started when MS Intel et al brought suit to have the patent invalidated and that the Australians simply counter sued and then won. Talk about putting a foot in it! The article left much unsaid. The whole thing seems odd for a govt lab to get into. Why such a long time to protect their rights?

Interested to see how this shakes out. That district in East Texas is, I believe, famous for civil suits against companies; that is, if it is the one I am thinking of...

Does anyone have a link with more depth on this? It is a great business story and more to it than meets the eye.

Re:Reciprocity? (1)

reason (39714) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862924)

The claim that it was immune to lawsuits was found to be invalid. That's why CSIRO counter-sued.

Not over yet... (2, Informative)

kansas1051 (720008) | more than 7 years ago | (#16860972)

Although this is certainly a big victory for CSIRO, the battle over this patent is far from over. Almost all "big" patent suits are appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which is the appellate court that has jurisdiction over patent appeals. The Federal Circuit reverses district court decisions (like the decision mentioned in the story) about 60% of the time. It also takes several years to move through the appellate process, which means it will be quite some time before Buffalo pays a cent to CSIRO.

Not so sure about the implications (1)

sam0vi (985269) | more than 7 years ago | (#16861168)

After reading this i asked my self: why would the royalties of my wifi router go to CSIRO? as long as i know the US court doesnt rule over Europe, so i'd like to say how that "worlwide application" comes to. They sure wont pay for them in China 2c

Who's liable? (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#16861542)

Who's liable here? 802.11 chipset manufacturers? OEMs who include those chipsets in their products (wireless routers, 802.11-equipped laptops and handhelds)?

Tax relief for Australians (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16861928)

Basically all countries of the world will be assisting Australians pay their taxation bill and that works for me.

Capitalism at its best. Thank you all very much...

A Happy Aussie

CSIRO invented the (wireless) Internet! (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862538)

I bet Al Gore* is jealous.

The opposition must have had technological morons as lawyers. There's got to be prior art on this. Modulated radio itself is just a way to "exchange large amounts of information wirelessly at high speed" -- a wireless network is simply a specific use of radio, and it's not as if wireless networking itself didn't exist before the 1990s. Military communications spring immediately to mind -- TADIL/Link 11 has been around since AT LEAST the 80s. Just because you use change it to "home or office" use doesn't mean something new has been created (or thought of, in this case). It's like patenting invisible pink unicorn saddles**.

* Yeah, I know the Al Gore thing is a misquote, it's just a joke.
** Yeah, I also know the invisible pink unicorn would NEVER allow itself to be saddled.

Related Inquirer article (1)

StrahdVZ (1027852) | more than 7 years ago | (#16862860)

This article [theinquirer.net] from the Inquirer and this one [techlawjournal.com] from TLJ shed some light as to what may have happened. Of particular interest is the following:

CSIRO has a US patent on technology for wireless networks and the vendors currently pay it a licence for its use.

The organisation said it obtained the wireless LAN patent in 1996, and it's a standard feature of notebook computers and other devices.

Its chief executive, Geoff Garrett, said that CSIRO offered licences on "reasonable and non-discriminatory terms" to the major vendors when they started selling devices which used the technology.


IANAL, but if the vendors currently already pay the CSIRO a license for its use, wouldn't this imply two things?
1) From the TLJ article, Buffalo was not paying a license and were therefore a suit was raised against them in Feb 2005; but
2) That Dell and Intel are paying the license and are trying to invalidate it so that they don't have to - and therefore raised the suit in May 2005 to that purpose - to which CSIRO have now countersued

"802.11a/g" (2, Funny)

Quantam (870027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16863208)

It's Australian for "OWNED"
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