Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Patents Wireless Networking Your Rights Online

CSIRO Reinvests Patent Earnings 86

Posted by Soulskill
from the un-patent-troll dept.
ozmanjusri writes with an update to a story we discussed a few days ago about a $200 million patent victory by CSIRO, Australia's governmental science research body. The organization has now turned around and reinvested $150 million of the proceeds into the science and industry endowment fund, which has already established three grants: "$12 million for two wireless research projects and $7.5 million for up to 120 fellowships and scholarships." CSIRO boss Megan Clark said, "It's very important that when you have a success like this, you reinvest it back into the wellspring. It's really about supporting areas that might need a helping hand in some of the frontier areas and research that actually tackles the national challenges."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

CSIRO Reinvests Patent Earnings

Comments Filter:
  • and here in USA... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) * on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @07:59AM (#29822189)

    When a patent victory comes, it goes straight out as executive pay bonus.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by OzPeter (195038)
      I was listening to NPR yesterday and they were talking about executive pay bonuses in the financial industry. The point was made that in an industry where you make tangible goods or supply tangible services you can invest profits in upgrading what-ever it is you do (IE CSIRO invests back into research). However in the financial sector, there is no tangible goods or services other than making money. So the only place for the profits to go is to bonuses or shareholder profits.
      • by bdsesq (515351) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @08:57AM (#29822833)

        So the only place for the profits to go is to bonuses or shareholder profits.

        How about corporate charitable giving?
        Or using the money to extend the business?

        The problem is that the choice before the executives is between doing something good for the business or possible for humanity and lining their own pockets.

        • by OzPeter (195038)

          The problem is that the choice before the executives is between doing something good for the business or possible for humanity and lining their own pockets.

          And that was identified by one of the presenters as being a problem with capitalism. He was contending that perhaps we should be looking to a system that worked for the good of all rather than the short term benefit of some (Note that this person was also pushing his book that discussed this belief)

          • He was contending that perhaps we should be looking to a system that worked for the good of all rather than the short term benefit of some

            The two are not mutually exclusive.

            We cannot extrapolate the long-term social implications of how we use our resources.
            Look at the cliche of the man and the fish. Give a man a fish he eats for a day, teach a man to fish he may end up starving if his fishing pole breaks.
            The unpredictability of the world means that there is no perfect answer on how best to use resources

            • by GrpA (691294)

              Actually, if you teach a man to fish, his knowledge exceeds the point where the tools are critical to the task. About the only thing that's going to cause him to starve to death is overfishing caused by commercial operations... And they tend to waste a lot of the food that would feed starving people too because there's a belief that if you give your product away to anyone, you can't sell it to anyone.

              Greed is always bad. It leads to wars, conflict and many other problems. It's not wanting a better life, it

              • Actually, if you teach a man to fish, his knowledge exceeds the point where the tools are critical to the task.

                The knowledge of how to fish doesn't magically give the man sustinance, to get a fish resources must be invested. The question of "fairness" is where those resources must come from.
                By giving the man a fish, the resource burden is placed entirely on those with nothing to gain. By teaching the man to fish the burden is placed on the same person who will ultimately benefit.

                About the only thing that'

      • by MattHaffner (101554) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @09:31AM (#29823253)

        So the only place for the profits to go is to bonuses or shareholder profits.

        How about put it in the friggin' bank so we don't have to use taxpayer money to bail you out when there's a bust in the market that you're gambling in?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Runaway1956 (1322357) *

          I would think that long term investments in government and infrastructure would do a lot of good for the bank, the nation, and for the people. It might not be as good as charitable donations, but anything that strengthens the country has to be good for the bank in the long run.

          Of course, buying government bonds don't pay excitingly high dividends, so it isn't attractive to the thrill seeking executives to whom banking is a game.

        • So the only place for the profits to go is to bonuses or shareholder profits.

          How about put it in the friggin' bank so we don't have to use taxpayer money to bail you out when there's a bust in the market that you're gambling in?

          And where is the bank going to put the money? That doesn't solve anything, it just passes the problem around.

      • >So the only place for the profits to go is to bonuses or shareholder profits

        Not strictly true - if you're a mutual organisation (e.g. building society in the UK) then you could always reinvest the profits towards lower interest rates for your borrowers. Unfortunately most of these mutuals are converting into banks here in the UK.

        • Unfortunately most of these mutuals are converting into banks here in the UK.
          You are a bit behind the times, the wave of conversions happened about a decade ago.

      • by aXis100 (690904)

        That's bogus. You can keep the money and use it for 1) further investment or 2) increase your cash position to better guarantee against risks. Clearly #2 wasnt happening in the USA much, which is why all of the banks collapsed.

      • by jmv (93421)

        Actually, the main problem I have with bonuses in the financial industries is not that much about "they're already making so much money", but the fact that they are an incentive to do the "wrong" thing. If you give the reward based on how much money the investments returned, then you are simply rewarding risk-taking. Not only because risky investments pay more, but because bonuses cannot be negative. Hence if you were to "bet" one billion with 50% odds, it would be profitable in terms of bonus. If you win,

    • Anyone else ever wonder about how that situation came to be in America? Weren't we the people who cheered for the underdog? The people who would have cheered for David instead of Goliath? Why are we so interested in protecting the pay of top executives and already wealthy, if some of the political debates over the last decade is any indication?
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Not to speak for others, but I for one value opportunities over outcomes. It's none of the government's business what "the pay of top executives and already wealthy" is. The freedom to do as one chooses with one's own wealth is so much more important than the equitable distribution of wealth.

        • by smooth wombat (796938) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @09:08AM (#29822989) Homepage Journal

          I don't normally reply to ACs, but this one demands it.

          It's one thing to say it's no business of the government to say how much someone in the private sector gets paid. It's quite another thing when those same private businesses are being propped up by taxpayer monies because those executives making millions of dollars in pay and bonuses all but bankrupted those businesses.

          Then it becomes the government's business because they're the one footing the bill to keep those businesses afloat.

          Once those businesses pay back all the money they got, then the executives can resume getting their big bucks. Until then, their pay should be restricted.

          If the executives don't like having their pay scrutinized, then they shouldn't have come hat-in-hand begging to be bailed out.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by khallow (566160)

            It's one thing to say it's no business of the government to say how much someone in the private sector gets paid. It's quite another thing when those same private businesses are being propped up by taxpayer monies because those executives making millions of dollars in pay and bonuses all but bankrupted those businesses.

            I still think it's no business of government. The key problem is that it's easy to taint any private endeavor with public funds. Just make it so that you are required to accept them as part of the provision for doing the activity that you desire (nuclear power, banking, employing people, etc). Once government has that "in", then by your logic, they can screw with the business as much as desired in the name of protecting the "investment" of public funds.

            A better solution is simply to treat the federal gov

    • by khallow (566160)
      Yes, yes. We have a single example of a government program that might be doing something right. Hence, it is time for a knee-jerk bash on business. You'll get extra points for working in Micro$oft somehow.
    • by KwKSilver (857599)
      + cocaine + politicians + hookers. It's really shameful to support drug dealers and politicians.
  • by Thanshin (1188877)

    "After seeing the media impact of the previous results we decided to treat it with elementary PR care".

    Well, in an environment with so many PR failures, I guess it's something.

  • "$12 million for two wireless research projects" CSIRO boss Megan Clark said

    She declined to comment on the fact that the first project took place at the roof of her apartment building and the second was located near a datacenter.

  • allocating 3/4 of your winnings to science does not diminish the fact that a state-funded organisation has probably spent the remainder on litigation and harassing hi-tech companies. The issuing of patent with a lifetime of 20 years to technology that has a lifetime of much less is stifling progress.

    • by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @08:21AM (#29822399)

      How does a $200m settlement, for several years of use of the technology, spread over an industry which earns billions per year, stifle progress? The wireless industry's probably been hit harder by the increase in the price of ketchup for the staff canteen.

      • by Thanshin (1188877) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @08:30AM (#29822513)

        Known as "The Red Blackout", "The Redout" or simply "Ketchup monday".

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by nietsch (112711)

        because that 200 million (+ similar amount in attorney fees) could have been spent on research by the ones actually designing and making the devices. add to that the millions of manufacturers that did not fight but decided to pay up. But the bad thing is the methods they used to get their earnings, not the actual subject. patents per-se are bad, so these ones are too. That is is a public institution that does the extortion makes it even worse. Their results should be for the good of all people, or for the g

        • by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @04:59PM (#29829367) Homepage Journal

          because that 200 million (+ similar amount in attorney fees) could have been spent on research by the ones actually designing and making the devices

          I wonder why you think that is inherently better?

          Given that we're looking at a case where a fresh approach taken by an independent research organisation arrived at an impressive solution that the people "actually designing and making" the devices weren't even beginning to think about I think it's fairly obvious that there is value in external research.

          I remember the bad old days of wireless networking where you could eke out a bit more speed by choosing equipment from a single manufacturer that used their own particular proprietary, patented technology to get a speed boost. Personally I'd prefer an external organisation willing to licence that technology to everyone.

          Their results should be for the good of all people, or for the good of all australian people if you want to be nationalist.

          Indeed the reason's for CSIRO's existence is to benefit Australians. As an institution funded by Australians that is reasonable. What they are doing is in the interest of Australians.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @08:25AM (#29822453)

      Maybe the companies shouldn't have tried to weasel out of paying royalties then.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @08:33AM (#29822533)

      This is just ridiculous - you clearly have no idea about this particular case.

      The research for which this patent was granted was THE thing that made modern wireless networking possible. It took radio data transfer from kilobits per second (where it had languished for some time) to a hundred megabits per second. At a time when you were using a 14k modem if you were lucky.

      And secondly, while software patents in the USA may be commonly used to stifle innovation, this technology was the thing that enabled the wifi industry to get started and IN NO WAY stifled anything. They haven't limited what it is used for. Or who uses it. Multiple standards have emerged based on it, all in the full foreknowledge that this was the basis technology. This is no submarine patent - the devices and the standards were based on this - and $200M total is pocket change spread among the multibillion giants of the world technology industry.

      Third, it is a patent granted for a short time for technology that will be in use for an extremely long time to come.

      This is exactly the kind of technological progress that the patent system was designed to encourage - this is the patent system WORKING the way it was intended.

      It is amazing that you can be so grossly wrong in so many ways in such a short comment. I have no idea how that got modded 'insightful'.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sockatume (732728)

        It's not just "THE thing that made modern wireless networking possible", it is modern wireless networking. The patent abstract:

        The present invention discloses a wireless LAN, a peer-to-peer wireless LAN, a wireless transceiver and a method of transmitting data, all of which are capable of operating at frequencies in excess of 10 GHz and in multipath transmission environments. This is achieved by a combination of techniques which enable adequate performance in the presence of multipath transmission paths whe

        • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

          by nietsch (112711)

          Comparing with ridiculous factoids does not prove your argument right. if 200 million is pocket change to you, I'd beg you to give a small part of that to me. In return, I will teach you about the tranquility one obtains by not having to work for your money.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            You seem to imply CSIRO didn't work for their money, despite inventing, and testing, the technology that a very, very large number of people use daily. That qualifies as then not being a troll, and it qualifies the companies as trying to weasel out of something so small, the payment for the use of their patented technology, it's absurd.

            Also, do you think that any company would put that much of the 200 million dollars into research on this one technology? Any company would take that money and run, and usuall

            • by nietsch (112711)

              Ok, if you don't trust technology companies to invest enough in research, then make a tax to ensure they do. If public bodies ('teh gubbermint') cannot do it, and private companies cannot do it, then I wonder how we get any progress at all. relying on a system of state monopolies is very outdated, and very inefficient. The other 50 million was most likely spent on litigation.

      • by russotto (537200)

        The research for which this patent was granted was THE thing that made modern wireless networking possible. It took radio data transfer from kilobits per second (where it had languished for some time) to a hundred megabits per second. At a time when you were using a 14k modem if you were lucky.

        Too bad it was invented in the 1960's. CSIRO's patent amounts to "using COFDM indoors".

        From one of the court papers on the subject:
        'The trial court found that Rault disclosed several of the limitations of independent

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @09:12AM (#29823027)

          This is completely misleading.

          The Rault paper was published in 1989, not in the 60's. Less than 4 years before the CSIRO patent was filed. Moreover Rault's techniques, while similar to those being developed at the SAME TIME at CSIRO, were not those that led on to wifi as we know it.

          Yes - multiple groups were working in the area at that time; but the CSIRO researchers got there first, built it, made it work, published it, patented it, and it is on THAT RESEARCH that wifi is based.

          The Rault paper was put forward as prior art, examined and rejected. I don't know how to put it more simply.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by russotto (537200)

            The Rault paper was published in 1989, not in the 60's. Less than 4 years before the CSIRO patent was filed. Moreover Rault's techniques, while similar to those being developed at the SAME TIME at CSIRO, were not those that led on to wifi as we know it.

            Yes, the Rault paper (which includes all the techniques in the patent, just not one particular application) was published in 1989, years before the CSIRO patent was filed (it doesn't matter how many years, as long as it's greater than one year). COFDM itself

    • by Zumbs (1241138)
      I'm unsure as to what you mean. Are you bashing patents all together? Or do you think that a private company holding the patents and winning the case in question would stiffle progress less? Or that it is wrong for public organizations to do research?
      • by nietsch (112711)

        Yes, patents are bad as a whole. Patents exercised by public institutions are just a disgrace. There was a one time cost for the research, but there should be a 20-year payback because some standards were based on it? Fair would be dedicating the patent after the costs have been recuperated. Otherwise it becomes gamblimg with public money.

    • by tepples (727027) <tepples@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @08:49AM (#29822735) Homepage Journal

      a state-funded organisation

      An organization funded by the government of Australia doesn't take any tax dollars from US citizens or any tax euros from EU-member citizens. So CSIRO is "a state-funded organization" to only 0.31 percent of the world population.

    • by ozbird (127571)
      Overheard at one of the settlement meetings: "That's not a patent! That's a patent."
  • by Gadget_Guy (627405) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @08:27AM (#29822485)

    What else were they supposed to do with the money? It's not like they have shareholders to support.

    • They do have shareholders and they are distributing the wealth to them; there just isn't an explicit shareholder's register. CSIRO is only partly government funded, making the federal government of Australia and by extension the Australian people a shareholder. Other shareholders are companies that fund research cooperatively and take a cut of returns or take on the commercialisation themselves. Like any company the directors are electing to reinvest the income rather than issue a dividend to the Gover

    • The other place the money could have gone was that the government could have just sucked it all back into "General Revenue".

      It's great to see that they left the money inside of the CSIRO.

  • Typical (Score:4, Funny)

    by T Murphy (1054674) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @08:48AM (#29822723) Journal
    The greed! First they get lots of money, then they go and put it to good so as to deprive me of being able to indignantly call them out for their immoral ways. The government can never do anything right!
    • Yeah, look at what comes out of socialised science!

      US citizens are right to be afraid of Obama's socialist^w public health option.
      • by H0D_G (894033)

        US citizens aren't being asked. In fact, US citizens are not at all relevant to this discussion- the CSIRO is an AUSTRALIAN organisation.

        And good for them, the more money they get, the greater likelihood they'll be hiring, and the greater likelihood I'll be able to get a job when I've finished University.

      • by quink (141554)

        Socialised science came up with an amazing collection of things that probably keep you alive and fed today... so if you don't like it, go back to eating pesticide-ridden food and having planes crash all over your suburb.... two things the rest of the world can avoid because of the CSIRO.

        That's your right, just as it's your right to delude yourself and keep paying insurance companies through the nose for your so-called existing health "scheme" that costs about twice as much out of your GDP as the "socialist

    • by sincewhen (640526)
      I think this re-investment is just a ploy to develop more technology and patent it.

      Then, they'll expect to get paid when others use that new technology.

      These guys have got to be the worst patent trolls ever!

  • Good for them (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cbope (130292)

    All I can say is good for them. They developed a core piece of technology and have re-invested for the future. As another poster already mentioned, this is the way the patent system should work. Now, if only the damn patent trolls would wake up, stop their frivolous lawsuits and coercion tactics and actually invent something instead of profiteering off of other companies investments by buying up patents, we would be getting somewhere. Unfortunately, the current patent environment in the US won't let this ha

A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any other invention, with the possible exceptions of handguns and Tequilla. -- Mitch Ratcliffe

Working...