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Australia Patents United States Wireless Networking

Aussie Wi-Fi Patent Nears Expiry In the United States 48

Posted by samzenpus
from the time-to-share dept.
Bismillah writes "Australia's national science and research agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization or CSIRO, has netted hundreds of millions on developing the near-ubiquitous Wi-Fi technology — and patenting it. Now however the patent is about to expire in the United States and eighteen other markets and the question is, can CSIRO come up with anything similarly successful in the future?"
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Aussie Wi-Fi Patent Nears Expiry In the United States

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  • by TFlan91 (2615727) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @08:24AM (#44445177)

    Have they really only made $430 million? If I were them, I'd look back and wonder where the royalty negotiations went wrong... That seems like a low number for something that is quite literally everywhere.

    "expected to be in more than five billion devices by the time the patent expires."

    ~$0.08 per device for one of the most significant and widely known technologies in use today, someone got a good deal, wasn't the Aussies

  • Actually Useful (Score:5, Informative)

    by MrNemesis (587188) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @08:29AM (#44445203) Homepage Journal

    Not sure where the derogatory tone is coming from, but this isn't a patent troll - they do actually have a patent on something that's useful and ubiquitous.

    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/06/01/2258221/csiro-sues-us-carriers-over-wi-fi-patent [slashdot.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CSIRO#802.11_patent [wikipedia.org]
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/04/10/csiro_patent_trolls_wifi/ [theregister.co.uk]

    As someone said in the last slashdot thread, all patent trolls may ask for money for patents they hold, but not all patent holders are patent trolls. As with many,many previous articles on this, it somehow seems to be framed in a "US versus them" argument to help fan the flames of jingoistic controversy.

    Given the headlines and summaries this morning I think samzenpus is coming down off a three-day bender.

  • by Tx (96709) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @08:38AM (#44445245) Journal

    They did try, the company was called Radiata, founded by ex-CSIRO employees; it was purchased by Cisco, but ultimately failed to come up with any commercially successful products and was written off.

  • by Tx (96709) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @08:39AM (#44445259) Journal

    There was a failed attempt to put a link to this page [cisco.com] into that post.

  • Re:expire (Score:4, Informative)

    by ebno-10db (1459097) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @08:45AM (#44445289)

    While US copyright duration has been extended many times, I'm not aware of a similar trend for patents.

    It was extended from 17 to 20 years for "international conformance", but that's the only one I know of.

  • Re:Not really (Score:5, Informative)

    by Brulath (2765381) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @08:56AM (#44445363)

    As noted by MrNemesis [slashdot.org], the Ars Technica piece was, as so much journalism unfortunately is these days, written to push a specific "us vs them" mentality; this ultimately resulted in the author compromising their integrity to try and hammer a dubious point home in a concrete manner. A look at the Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] article about the CSIRO patent notes the author had a follow-up article [arstechnica.com] with more dubious attempts to validate their point; he quotes an unrelated and apparently uninformed politican saying Australia invented WiFi - it did not - as evidence of CSIRO claiming it did, and making the unusual assertation that because CSIRO itself wasn't directly involved in the creation of the WiFi standard its patent claim is invalid, even though a company that was licensing CSIRO's patent actively used it as part of their participation in the creation of the WiFi standard. The Register [theregister.co.uk] also covers the interesting points.

    I'm an Australian and I think CSIRO is an awesome organisation that's earned considerable respect, and I'm not overly fond of the US media's attempts to smear it in order to improve their bottom line (in Ars' case, ad impressions from indignant people on both sides of the fence).

    It's easy to jump on a bandwagon, but you should figure out where it came from and where it's going before you do.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 01, 2013 @08:56AM (#44445365)

    The name of the company was right, so the comment wasn't completely wrong.

    Radiata was founded by Macquarie University employees (Skellern and Weste). Macquarie Uni were the team that converted it from a non-real time testbed to a real-time WLAN. Pre-dating to the foundation of Radiata, Macquarie Uni fed its results into the 802.11a standardisation process. Cisco bought Radiata for $560m and rolled the tech. into their products. The founders did very nicely out of it, given their subsequent lifestyle changes, and one headed up Cisco's WLAN division, so it was hardly a failure. Independently of the sale of Radiata, CSIRO has received about $1b in royalties. Not a bad try.

  • Re: expire (Score:5, Informative)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples.gmail@com> on Thursday August 01, 2013 @09:01AM (#44445397) Homepage Journal
    The U.S. patent term was "extended" from 17 years after grant to 20 years after filing when it takes 3 years to process a patent application anyway.
  • Re:Not really (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 01, 2013 @09:03AM (#44445407)

    IEEE and CSIRO weren't independent, as the IEEE standard was derived from CSIRO's work. Via their proxy, Macquarie University, CSIRO were in the standards meetings making technical contributions and being upfront about patents and the need to pay a reasonable royalty. The big players ignored the request for royalties, guessing CSIRO wouldn't be up to the fight. They were wrong.

  • Re:Actually Useful (Score:5, Informative)

    by LordLucless (582312) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @09:20AM (#44445493)

    Not to mention building the first electronic computer in Australia (and the fifth in the world), developing the polymer banknotes used in Australia and many other countries in the region, building the Parkes Radio Telescope (which was used to help capture transmissions from the moon landing), developing Aeroguard, creating flu treatments...they've done a little bit more than write a bit of code and file for patents.

  • Re:Not really (Score:5, Informative)

    by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Thursday August 01, 2013 @11:06AM (#44446683) Homepage

    The version of events you're describing didn't happen. There was no "convergent evolution". CSIRO spin-off Radiata was involved in creating the standard. See the Register article [theregister.co.uk]. There's a license letter [ieee.org] proving the IEEE was fully aware of CSIRO patent and its impact on the 802.11a standard. If you look at the letters of assurance list [ieee.org], there was a long list of such agreements hammered out as part of the standardization process. Given all that, the idea that CSIRO's technology was obvious and easily duplicated isn't true either, so your US patent system flamebait is unsupported by this example. The only part you got right here is that CSIRO's role as a research lab that spins off commercial products does not make them a patent troll.

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