back to article Oz boffins to milk 'other half' of WiFi

Having put the squeeze on tech heavyweights like Intel, Dell, and Microsoft in defense of its ubiquitous WiFi patent, Australia's national science agency is preparing to wring out the rest of the electronics industry for royalties. The Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) says it's …

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  1. Neil Alexander
    Happy

    Dear CSIRO

    You will not succeed. Thanks though.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Here we go again!

    The US Patent Office is Destroying innovation and the progress of technology.

    Firstly the patent is a load of crap, it should never have been granted.

    Secondly, what moron decided to use pattented technology for an industry standard?

    I suspect alot of bribes and backhanders are involved as this seem to be a repeating theme.

    Alot of people need to be Fired, out of a cannon, into the sun!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds Fair

    2 Billion going into scientific research instead of lining some corporate fat cats' pockets. Sounds fair to me.

  4. Charles Manning
    Thumb Up

    Once an Ausie...

    The spirit of Ned Kelly lives on!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Damned if you do. Damned if you don't

    Is it just me or did I just see an argument that Psystar could use? If Apple where to try and push the "prior art" route with the CSIRO, what is to stop Psystar from doing the same thing to Apple?

    If I read the articles correctly, no judgement was officially made on the "piror art" argument and HP, Intel, etc rolled over so that would leave the question of "prior art" unanswered. I could honestly see Apple pushing it and of they where to lose, it's a couple of more mill for CSIRO but if they where to win, then wouldn't that open up the way for Psystar to use the same argument? "The hardware already exists on the market, it's just the way it's put together".

    Food for thought but, then again, it's only my opinion.

  6. A B 3
    Black Helicopters

    A government funded agency...

    A government (read taxpayer) agency settles for an undisclosed sum. Why no disclosure?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CSIRO

    In most patent cases, it's an automatic reflex to assume the patent-owner is nothing but a greedy troll.

    But in this case, CSIRO aren't actually the "bad guys". They developed (and patented) some pioneering wireless techniques, then allowed them to be included in the 802.11 standards, with the caveat that they be allowed to charge reasonable licensing fees. Everyone agreed.

    Then, companies started developing wireless products without licensing the technology. CSIRO sent them notices that they were infringing on their patents. The companies ignored them. CSIRO then tried negotiating with them, only to be rebuffed. This went on for years, with CSIRO having no luck at all.

    So they finally bit the bullet and hired some lawyers to tackle some of the major infringing companies (a big move that took a massive chunk out of their budget). The companies then turned around and countersued.

    After much legal wrangling, the companies realised they didn't have a legal leg to stand on and settled. CSIRO then pursued other companies who were infringing, resulting in more settlements.

    CSIRO have been reasonable all the way. They tried negotiating, they only pursued legal action after all other avenues were extinguished, and their patents are perfectly valid and non-trivial. It's a shame that things ended up in court, both for the companies infringing the patents and for CSIRO (who had to cut back on research to pay the lawyers), but it truly was a last resort.

  8. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    More power to the bearded boffins!

    The CSIRO is a master-class of extreme boffinry!

    I dips me lid to them!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Looks like

    Australia is the new RamBus

  10. Ian 37
    Pirate

    Jolly good!

    Hopefully with the new (and well earned) income they can come up with a Mortein-equivalent for cane toads!

  11. Happy Skeptic
    Thumb Up

    Americans forced to take their own medicine..

    ..and they aren't liking it are they? The big US corporations named in this article are the same ones that lobby the US govt. to pressure other countries into adopting overly strict Intellectual 'Property' laws. They are also the same companies that use land-grab tactics to amass huge amounts of frivolous patents to stifle competition

    On the other hand we finally have a real scientific organisation (not a lawyer-ridden patent troll) which actually does invent things and innovate use the patent system for what it's intended and look what happens!

    (disclaimer: I'm an Aussie)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Rambus... these guys...

    why do people keep building standards around patented or proprietary systems/data/etc? Surely to have it become a proper "standard" it should be company-independant?

    At the very worst, all of the IP for that standard should be owned by the standards body or the standards body should have a license set up that gives unrestricted use to people following their standard (though with no bearing on people not following their standard to the letter).

  13. Roger Jenkins

    Funding

    Csiro is an amazing 'think tank', I'd like to think that the Govt. would let them keep the settlement and continue with normal funding so that CSIRO get a lovely bonus to spend.

    It won't happen of course, it'll either go to consolidated revenue (Govt.) direct, or, reduced funding until it's gone. Whichever way the Govt. will get the money.

    It was ever thus.

  14. Brutus

    @Rambus... these guys... @Here we go again

    You use patented/proprietary tech for standards when:

    a) the tech is key to the procedure that you are trying to standardise

    and

    b) the 'rules' for the use of the tech are fairly agreed in advance of inclusion in the standard.

    CSIRO have key patents for 802.11 functionality. Probably someone else could have come up with an equivalent, non-infringing solution, but they'd most likely patent that anyway.

    CSIRO also set out the licensing requirements before the tech was included in the standard.

    This is patents working the way they are intended:- you put in the work to create something, and are then rewarded for letting others use your creation.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Someone's missing

    Strangely absent from the list is the biggest of them all - Cisco/Linksys.

    Better lawyers?

  16. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    RE: Australia is the new RamBus

    Rubbish.

    In this case, the patent was known about in advance of setting the standard, and RAND terms agreed. After agreeing to the standard, various companies then refused to pay up.

    RamBus was different. They sat round the discussion table and participated in setting the standard, knowing about their own patens, and saying nothing about it. Only after the standard was set and being used did they then demand licensing fees on their own terms. A patent ambush.

    Oh yes, and to those asking why patented stuff is included in standards. Well these days there are so many patents that it would be virtually impossible to arrive at any meaningful and useful standard that didn't use patented technology. The usual course of action is for all participants to declare their patents in advance - so the standards body can decide on whether to include it/avoid it/fight it/ and negotiate the terms of use. Usually it's a matter of RAND (Reasonable and Non Disciminatory) - ie the fee is set in advance, set at what the various people agree is a reasonable price, and available to all (ie Non-Discriminatory, the patent holder cannot prevent anyone from using it as long as they pay the same fee as everyone else).

  17. Keith Williams
    Pirate

    why?

    do they have to go after the companies which use WI-Fi in their products? They don't generally make the wi-fi chips that they include in their products, they buy them from the chip manufacturers. Why isn't CSIRO suing them?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    To CSIRO

    Chi-ching!!!!

  19. Richard 102
    Coat

    Aigh! No!

    Obama, help us! Get your friend Rod Blogojivich on it!

    (Mine's the one with the hammer-and-sickle lapel pin.)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Happy Skeptic

    "(disclaimer: I'm an Aussie)"

    I'm an American, but I'm with you 100%. The unholy alliance between our government and big business hurts us at least as much as it hurts the rest of the world.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good for the CSIRO

    Patents on genuine inventions are a great way to fund applied research while keeping the output of a national research organisation out of the grubby hands of any one commercial firm.

    All too often researchers at an organisation like the CSIRO have to divide their time between meaningful research that is not immediately revenue-generating, and purely commercial projects which are paid for by outside entities which end up holding the IP.

    In this one (and perhaps only) case, device patents are truly beneficial to mankind.

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