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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 Joining Yet Again (2992179) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @08:21AM (#44445155)

    You mean a couple of enterprising managers/scientists didn't immediately spin themselves off into a new company so they could personally collect the profits rather than give back to the universities and public sector research bodies which gave them education, experience, equipment, salary, thousands of articles upon which to base their research, and an almost infinite number of grad students, like with almost all groundbreaking modern research?

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

    by Tx (96709) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @08:31AM (#44445213) Journal

    Yes, I like the section in this article [arstechnica.com] which talks about how old and common the tech in the CSIRO patent is;

    "All of the elements of the "unique combination" CSIRO proffered in court as a breakthrough weren't merely old by tech standards, they were decades old. "Multicarrier modulation," used in WiFi as OFDM, was described as early as the 1950s. Papers had been published on interleaving in the 1960s. Forward error correction, Intel's lawyer told the Texas jury, "was used when NASA sent the Mariner mission to Mars in 1968." Harris Semiconductor had actual working products incorporating these techniques by the 1980s and the company was selling its modems to the US military. The lead defense attorney for Intel, Robert Van Nest, even showed one of those Harris modems to the Texas jury during the 2009 case.

    "This Harris modem wasn't patented," Van Nest explained. "Of course not. Nobody thought this was a real invention, because interleaving, modulation, and coding had been around for 30 years by the time Harris came up with this." The issue was making great wireless products, Van Nest explained. "The problem wasn't putting these radio technologies together. Everybody had that... The problem was, how do you take something like the Harris modem and turn it into a chip that I can hold in my hand? That's a problem that the CSIRO patent doesn't even address."

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

    by LordLucless (582312) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @08:44AM (#44445283)

    WiFi is the result of a standardisation process in which many people and organisations contributed technology.

    Yes, but not the CSIRO; from all evidence, it was an example of convergent evolution, much like calculus - both the IEEE and CSIRO came to the same conclusions as regarding the best way of handling indoor interference, its just that CSIRO did it first, and patented it. Then the IEEE produced their standard without checking for patents, and unknowingly incorporated patented technology in it.

    My understanding is that the CSIRO patent and general claim that Australia "invented wifi" is perceived as nonsense, and CSIRO is seen as little better than a patent troll.

    That "understanding" seems to derive from sour grapes over the fact that some other country is exploiting the patent system the US has forced on the rest of the world. Personally, I think that the fact that an entirely unrelated entity managed to duplicate the patent without relying in CSIRO's knowledge should be proof of it not being sufficiently non-obvious - but there are thousands of US patents that I have to pay for that would be invalidated by that same standard, so the US can just suck it up. The game is stupid, but it was them who wrote the rules.

    Also, CSIRO has been around since 1926, long before the IEEE even existed, and is responsible for a vast amount of scientific research. Calling them a patent troll is like calling Bell Labs a patent troll.

  • Re:Obligatory (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 01, 2013 @09:56AM (#44445783)
    You should keep an eye on their material sciences research...

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