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CSIRO Settles With Tech Giants Over WiFi Patent Spat 92

Combat Wombat brings news that the legal battle between the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation (CSIRO) and a host of major tech corporations has come to end, with a large settlement going to the CSIRO. The fight was over a patent on wireless LAN technology, which already earned the CSIRO a victory in court over Buffalo Technology and a settlement with Hewlett-Packard. The remaining 13 companies, which include Dell, Intel, Microsoft and Nintendo, have now chosen to settle as well. "[The CSIRO] will use the money won from a Wi-Fi technology patent battle to fund further research. ... It is unclear how much money has flowed to the CSIRO, but experts say the technology would be worth billions of dollars if royalties were paid on an ongoing basis."
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CSIRO Settles With Tech Giants Over WiFi Patent Spat

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  • Re:Just because... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mi ( 197448 ) <> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @01:13PM (#27676403) Homepage Journal

    Just because they do reserch doesn't mean they are not money grubbing patent whores.

    I wonder, if patent-holders are justified in doing anything with their holdings, except donating them to public domain — in your opinion...

  • Re:Patent Laws (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tirloni ( 681156 ) <[gpt] [at] []> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @01:28PM (#27676561)
    Let's say I'm doing some cool scientific work in wireless communication stuff and I invent a cool method for communication over soda which is sure thousands of times more efficient than ethernet over fiber. Now, do I have to build a factory to make and commercialize my new cool NICs ? Or can I patent my idea, and get a share from whoever makes money out of it ? I think you get the point in this case.
  • Re:Patent Laws (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wastedlife ( 1319259 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @02:18PM (#27677101) Homepage Journal

    Maybe they shouldn't be able to change the frequencies mentioned in the patent. Maybe they shouldn't be able to patent obvious things like multiplexing over different frequencies. Maybe they shouldn't bring the lawsuit up in a court district that is a known haven to patent trolls. Maybe they should go after the WIFI Alliance, who knowingly introduced the standard including the patented tech, but did not provision for licensing fees. On that subject, who should be responsible for those fees? The WIFI Alliance? The chip designers (Broadcom, RALink, etc.)? The manufacturers (Netgear, Buffalo, etc.)? The companies and individuals using the equipment?

    A standard should not include patented technology. Or, the patent holder should be contractually obliged to not sue over the patents when they are used within the standard before the standard can be introduced.

  • Re:Patent Laws (Score:1, Insightful)

    by innocent_white_lamb ( 151825 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @02:25PM (#27677163)

    That's a question that should be asked of the Australian taxpayer. Perhaps research of this nature should not be publicly funded in that way.

  • Lesson To Learn (Score:4, Insightful)

    by VernonNemitz ( 581327 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @02:37PM (#27677319) Journal
    Between this and the most recent decision regarding Rambus RAM designs, it should be obvious that no technology used as a standard should be SECRETLY encumbered by a patent. Signatories PLANNING on a Standard could be declared in violation (and lose all royalties thereby) if relevant patent data is not disclosed. That is, when planning on a Standard, every party wishing to participate needs to sign something up-front regarding relevant information and the patent process (or else). This of course won't prevent a Standard from devising something that was patented by someone outside of the working group, unknown to anyone in the group, but it would cut down on deliberate attempts to Standardize a patented thing.
  • Re:Patent Laws (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wastedlife ( 1319259 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @02:55PM (#27677499) Homepage Journal

    I guess I should stop giving patent holders amnesia after "stealing" their designs, then.

  • Re:Patent Laws (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Burkin ( 1534829 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @02:58PM (#27677519)
    Or maybe companies should stop trying to think they can steal someone else's research and profit from it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @03:30PM (#27677869)

    Are the ideals here really about freedom and liberty or just thinly-veiled anti-corporatism?

    That statement implies the concepts you contrast are incompatiable, they are not. An organization that exisits only to maximize its own profit would willingly sacrifice people's freedoms and liberty, if that seemed to be the most convenient way to pursue this goal. Once upon a time, it was required to demonstrate how a corporation would provide a net benefit to society before a corporate charter could be issued (it would, in theory, be revoked if that benefit never materialized). However, that was a long time ago and the standards are far lower and few seem to remember that corporations were originally allowed to exisit by society, rather than having some intrinsic right to exisit. Therefore IMHO, anyone who values freedom and liberty should at least be suspicious of corporations in their modern form.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas