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Wi-Fi Patent Victory Earns CSIRO $200 Million 267

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-up dept.
bennyboy64 writes "iTnews reports the patent battle between Australia's CSIRO and 14 of the world's largest technology companies has gained the research organization $200 million from out of court settlements. CSIRO executive director of commercial, Nigel Poole, said the CSIRO were wanting to license their technology further, stating that he 'urged' companies using it to come forward and seek a license. 'We believe that there are many more companies that are using CSIRO's technology and it's our desire to license the technology further,' Poole said.'We would urge companies that are currently selling devices that have 802.11 a,g or n to contact CSIRO and to seek a license because we believe they are using our technology.'"
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Wi-Fi Patent Victory Earns CSIRO $200 Million

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  • Only fair (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 15, 2009 @01:17AM (#29753575)

    Pat on the back for CSIRO. One of the ways government-owned research organizations can expect to survive is by monetizing inventions - when companies like Lucent, Buffalo, Linksys, Apple etc. all make a killing off this stuff and didn't invest in its development it is only fair they are forced to pay up.

    • Re:Only fair (Score:5, Informative)

      by dark_requiem (806308) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @01:58AM (#29753779)
      If it's a government-owned research organization, what right do they have patenting it? Government-owned implies tax-funded, which means that the costs have already been shifted to the general public. How is it legitimate to force people to pay for research and then deny them access to the results? And to preempt those who will bring this up, yes, you can argue that corporations aren't "people", but they are groups of people. Besides which, if a single individual wanted to hack together some wifi cards and sell them to a few people, they would still technically be infringing on the patent, and thus be as liable as a corporate entity.
      • Re:Only fair (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Barny (103770) <bakadamage-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Thursday October 15, 2009 @02:04AM (#29753805) Homepage Journal

        Ok then, this should be fun :)

        So lets put a tax, oh about $2 should do, on any N class wireless device sold outside of Australia, the results would be more favorable to the CSIRO (an Australian tax-payer funded research group) I think.

      • Re:Only fair (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Znarl (23283) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @02:06AM (#29753819) Homepage Journal

        The Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization (CSIRO) is funded by the Australian tax paying citizens.

        It is legitimate for Australians to be rewarded for research they paid for by in the form of licensing fees from the rest of the world.

      • If governments invest tax money wisely, then they get a return on that investment and we have to pay less taxes (and the next piece of technology can be developed). It's not like these corporations aren't making money off the wireless technology someone else developed.

        Besides which, of these large corporations, how many are Australian? How do Australians benefit from more of their money flowing out of the country for technology they paid to develop?

      • Re:Only fair (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tpgp (48001) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @02:09AM (#29753831) Homepage

        Government-owned implies tax-funded, which means that the costs have already been shifted to the general public. How is it legitimate to force people to pay for research and then deny them access to the results?

        You missed a few pertinent words in your question Let me add them for you - they make the answer obvious.

        How is it legitimate to force Australian people to pay for research and then deny American & European Corporations access to the results?

        • by muffen (321442)

          You missed a few pertinent words in your question Let me add them for you - they make the answer obvious. How is it legitimate to force Australian people to pay for research and then deny American & European Corporations access to the results?

          Yes because Australians are paying other countries for their tax-funded inventions right?

          Taking this path is scary, I think it's the wrong move and I hope it will come back and bite the aussies in the behind.
          You are happily using inventions (many of them me

      • Government-owned implies tax-funded, which means that the costs have already been shifted to the general public.

        The Australian general public paid for it.

        American companies are exploiting it (and charging Australians premium prices for it).

        Do you see why Australians might like to see an organisation which has been funded by us, and will return benefits to us, receiving the profits of their invested capital rather than the money going to organisations which have no connection to the Australian general

      • And even then I suspect most Australian tax payers would like CSIRO to fund itself to the degree it can and would think it reasonable that the actual users of a technology would pay where that is feasable.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by HiThere (15173)

        I believe it's Australian. Why should anyone who isn't Australian have the right to use that patent without paying the license?

        (I pretty much agree with your basic argument, but not with the details. If the Australian's paid for it with taxes, then there's a good argument that they should be able to use it without paying patent license fees. This argument, however, doesn't work for someone living in, e.g., the US though.)

        A different argument would assert that this entire class of things shouldn't be pate

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by sFurbo (1361249)
          I came across a proposed way of doing just that some years ago: http://www.slate.com/id/68674/ [slate.com]
          Basically, every time a patent is granted, an auction is performed over the patent*. Now, 9 times out of ten, the government pays the one who applied for the patent the winning bid*, and the patent is released into public domain. 1 time out of ten, the highest bidder pays, and gets the monopoly. So, the one who applied to the patent gets what the market thinks it is worth. He can bid in the auction himself, and ha
      • Different country, my dear friend!

        And getting money back for that technology will reduce the bill to the taxpayers in the future.

      • Maybe because the Tax Payers of Australia don't want the tax payers of the United States, China, Singapore, Germany, France etc... to benefit without paying taxes towards the research?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by atmurray (983797)
        You make the fatal mistake that unless your Australian, you probably didn't fund the initial research. So to put your question back on you, if your tax dollars weren't spent developing it, what right do you have to use the technology for free?
        • by tg123 (1409503)

          You make the fatal mistake that unless your Australian, you probably didn't fund the initial research.
          So to put your question back on you, if your tax dollars weren't spent developing it, what right do you have to use the technology for free?

          please define free.

      • The CSIRO are under a lot of pressure to generate their own revenue and become more self funded and i don't really see how it's immoral to generate revenue from more than one stream just because some of your cash-flow comes from the taxpayer. Also it's probably worth bringing up that this is Australian tax money, and none of these corporations have paid any tax that might make them eligible for the idea that they've already paid in some way for the right to use it.
      • First of all, government owned does not imply 100% tax funded. In fact it is a common model for applied research institutes to have their government funding tied to licensing and other external income as an incentive for those institutes to do practically relevant research. So for example they may have 50% of their annual budget from the government, and the rest from other sources of income. And of course, whatever money they make on this won't be distributed among shareholder, but re-invested into future p

    • Government-owned organizations are paid for by taxes. Why should I pay once for the invention by taxes and then again through licensing fees?

      • by timmarhy (659436)
        so you pay tax in all the countries wireless gear is sold? fail!
      • by tg123 (1409503)

        Government-owned organizations are paid for by taxes. Why should I pay once for the invention by taxes and then again through licensing fees?

        Its my taxes buddy (assuming your not australian) and I would like you to pony up the cash.

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      Pat on the back for CSIRO. One of the ways government-owned research organizations can expect to survive is by monetizing inventions - when companies like Lucent, Buffalo, Linksys, Apple etc. all make a killing off this stuff and didn't invest in its development it is only fair they are forced to pay up.

      All those companies don't pay taxes or their employees don't?

      In WW2, the government nullified many radio patents to get the innovation going real fast. They can also don't have to follow patents internally,

  • by bennyboy64 (1437419) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @01:19AM (#29753591)
    It was also the first time the research organization had seen a surplus in its financial reporting http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,26209952-12377,00.html [news.com.au]
    • Don't spend it all at once...

    • It was also the first time the research organization had seen a surplus in its financial reporting

      Er, the article you linked to says it's the biggest ever and twice the size of last years, not the first surplus ever.

      The interesting (to me) figure in the article is that they have increased the number of scientists employed by 6% over the last 5 years, bringing it to a total of 1837. We hear a lot about the "brain drain" so it's nice to see growth in scientific support.

  • ah, so I should be sending CSIRO the medical bills for my wifi allergy shots!

  • What do you bet there are a few alternatives coming down the pipe soon? IBM, Apple, Intel, everybody coming out with the 'better wireless networking' technology.

    • What do you bet there are a few alternatives coming down the pipe soon?

      Given how long "N" took to reach standardisation I'd be surprised if any alternative happened "soon".

  • From the summary, doesn't it bother anyone that Nigel Poole isn't the director of anything. He's the director of an adjective or adverb. "Director of Commercial".

    Director of Commercial WHAT? Commercial Espionage? Commercial Litigation? Commercial Applications of Research? Or maybe he's Director of Television Commercials? Who can tell?
    • His actual title appears to be "Executive Director, Commercial". They all [csiro.au] seem to be phrased that way, presumably so the "Executive Director", "Group Director" etc bits of the title are all up front, rather than being buried at the end of lengthy domains like "Human Resources, Safety and Sustainability". As such it's really "Commercial Executive Director", which isn't so bad.
    • Well seen!

      You're the king of grammarly!

  • for Fast Fourier Transform and multi spectrum rf echo cancelation!!!
  • It's a valid patent? How does it compare then if BSD patented their government-funded work?
  • by Jacques Chester (151652) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:33AM (#29754491)

    The government announced that CSIRO's funding allocation for next year will be reduced by a one-off amount of $200 million.

    The savings will be used to fund a series of very large plaques in school gyms where, by pure coincidence, most polling booths are set up during federal elections.

  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@@@aol...com> on Thursday October 15, 2009 @06:13AM (#29754855) Journal

    If the taxpayer funds the research, the taxpayer owns the results. Nobody should be able to patent something that came about because of taxpayer-funded research.

    Furthermore, patented technology shouldn't be allowed to make it into "standards." "Standards" should be open and unencumbered. It's fundamentally anti-competitive to standardize on encumbered technology.

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