back to article Next generation Wi-Fi mired in patent fears

The IEEE working group developing the 802.11n Wi-Fi is holding urgent meetings this week to discuss a significant threat to the standard from patents held by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Despite requests from the IEEE, CSIRO has failed to promise not to sue anyone for infringement …


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  1. Jason Harvey

    smells of RAMBUS

    let the standard be put in place and wait a couple of years for world+dog to produce product... then sue world+dog for patent infringement and attempt to get rich beyond rich quick but end up being slapped handily by the judicial system for being underhanded.

  2. Sampler

    Useless bureaucrats

    How can something that's been in development for so long be unhinged by such an oversight?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He who lives by the sword...

    For years now science has been eroded by the influence of big business. Now we have the case that if a science research proposal doesn't look like it will produce money, it is far less likely to be funded.

    So, to hear that this scientific organisation is now holding big business' next big thing hostage is wonderfully ironic. And why not? The scientists did all the work - why should a bunch of company execs and shareholders who don't even know how wireless works make all the money!

    In fact, I'd go so far as to say 'tough luck' to the companies already selling 'n' standard equipment. I hope they get sued! Perhaps then they'll learn that if they want scientists to be happy they need to treat them like human beings, not money generating machines.

    Perhaps this is the opening salvo in a new battle between the scientific community and the business community over who has the right to exploit the products of scientific research. Imagine Intel having to pay royalties to Nobel prize winning physicists on every processor they sell!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This didn't stop 802.11b and 802.11g

    This patent is old news. The CSIRO had patents over the b&g standards also. Equipment manufacturers should just pay up and stop being such tight arses.

  5. foxyshadis

    Re: He who lives by the sword...

    You know that standards bodies create license pools in which every patent-holder gets a share of the license, right? They don't steal from companies, that's why all the stake-holders get together. A big chunk of the negotiating time is working out fee schedules, in fact, since all the IP-holders want as much as they can get and the chip-makers want to pay as little as possible. (IEEE isn't directly involved in licensing like MPEG-LA, but it's part of what goes on during standardization.)

  6. Andy Dent

    re smells of RAMBUS

    No attempt to deceive here - Cisco were savvy enough to buy in early.

    This really is a situation where a legitimate scientific organisation developed a real solution and it's just some big companies trying to get the results for free.

  7. Jon Etkins

    Nothing like RAMBUS

    The CSIRO's patents have been known for years - they are also at the core of 802.11a and g (and are licensed as part of those standards).

    If you read the CSIRO's letter ( you'll see that what they're saying is that they cannot commit to licensing their technology to companies which are currently refusing to license it (and in some cases are actively suing the CSIRO).

    The pre-n and draft-n manufacturers have only themselves to blame. Their "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" attitude may yet wind up sinking the ship.

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