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Patents The Courts Wireless Networking

CSIRO Sues US Carriers Over Wi-Fi Patent 308

An anonymous reader notes that CSIRO has sued Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile in — wait for it — East Texas District Court. "Australia's peak science body stands to reap more than $1 billion from its lucrative Wi-Fi patent after already netting about $250 million from the world's biggest technology companies, an intellectual property lawyer says. The CSIRO has spent years battling 14 technology giants including Dell, HP, Microsoft, Intel, Nintendo, and Toshiba for royalties and made a major breakthrough in April last year when the companies opted to avoid a jury hearing and settle for an estimated $250 million. Now, the organization is bringing the fight to the top three US mobile carriers in a new suit targeting Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and T-Mobile. It argues they have been selling devices that infringe its patents."
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CSIRO Sues US Carriers Over Wi-Fi Patent

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  • Re:Patenting Math? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cappp ( 1822388 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @07:25PM (#32425602)
    I think the articles may be misstating the patents in question. You can't patent mathemetical formulae BUT you can patent their application. I would imagine that the patents specifically refer to the use of said equations in ensuring wi-fi reliability as suggested by the article's comment

    The CSIRO first applied for its Australian Wi-Fi patent in 1992, which solved the problem of patchy wireless reception caused by waves bouncing off objects

  • by jd ( 1658 ) < minus city> on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @07:35PM (#32425706) Homepage Journal

    Perhaps they should have said "possibly marginally less corrupt quango". (Let's face it, you can't vote out a corporate board of directors but you can vote out a quango's paymaster.)

  • by bleh-of-the-huns ( 17740 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @07:58PM (#32425896)

    As I understand it, chipset makers license the technology. Those chipsets are then incorporated into whatever product is being made, be that phones, pda's, laptops, etc etc.

    So in effect, the CSIRO wants to be be paid by the chipset makers, and then by the companies that use those chipsets, seems greedy.

  • by thogard ( 43403 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @07:58PM (#32425904) Homepage

    The real question is "Does the current AT&T have access to the old Bell Labs IP?" in which case this patent it dead if enough research is done.

  • by Lord_of_the_nerf ( 895604 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @08:00PM (#32425910)

    Normally I'm cynical about government, but the CSIRO do good work.

    They're a bunch of scientists who get left alone by the government because the Australian Government doesn't understand them well enough to interfere with them. Previously underfunded, this 'lazy billion' might actually cause the government to sit up and try and to pay attention.

  • by Swampash ( 1131503 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @08:01PM (#32425922)

    For once the patent system is actually working as intended.

    I for one applaud the CSIRO, and I look forward to seeing the freeloading corporations that have made billions on the back of the CSIRO's research get fucked in the ass.

  • Got links for that? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ciaran_o_riordan ( 662132 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @08:11PM (#32426016) Homepage

    If they're genuinely good guys, I'll document that too. Do you have any links to back up your story?

    Your story could be a true example of software patents being used to prevent mega-corps from abusing their power, but it's exactly the sort of story a PR department would come up with regardless of the truth.

    So it comes down to numbers and proofs. Can anyone help me look for documents to answer:
    * Has CSIRO promised to only sue companies that broke deals with CSIRO?
    * Does CSIRO has massive royalties to pay? (their law suits are estimated to be worth more than a billion USD, so the royalties owed would have to be of this magnitude to justify continued enforcement)
    * Where are the agreements that these companies signed with CSIRO?
    * Which companies signed the contracts?
    * Why can't CSIRO take them to court for breach of contract??

    That sort of info would be great to document. Thanks.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @08:34PM (#32426168) Journal

    How about a law that prohibits these companies from passing on their "mistakes" to the consumers?

    When they don't make money from a product or service they don't provide it. (Even if you force them to provide it, do that to enough products/services and the company as a whole dries up and blows away - unless you "bail them out" by - guess what - giving them still more money, which comes from - guess where - the consumers' pocket by way of taxes or inflation.)

    It's just another form of price control. Set it too high and you cost the consumer more than a non-regulated market would have cost. Set it too low and the product or service becomes scarce. Your proposal falls into the "set it too low" camp.

  • by thogard ( 43403 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @09:11PM (#32426416) Homepage

    Because they have thousands of patents, rejected patents and prior art that cover all parts of this patent. The predecessor of the AT&T Pixel machine was making use of some of those techniques and that was at least 3 years before this patent. I'm guessing the developers of some of the radar gear in the AWACS might also have prior art. I know of one person who claimed to have prior art and since he has related patents I suspect he might be right. I've helped break about 20 patents so far but I'm not sure I want to break this one.

  • being smart (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zogger ( 617870 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:01PM (#32426800) Homepage Journal

    Being smart is taking your innovation and actually doing something with it, in this case, manufacturing. This is called "value added" in economics. Ya, they might get a quarter to a full billion from a settlement, but the people who *use* that tech and build with it make umpteen billions, over and over again.

    That's smart(er).

    Mideast oil producing nations sell their raw resources..then did nothing with it beyond splurging and blowing it mostly. They failed to develop any heavy industry of note, or any sort of trans-oil-selling sustainable economy despite generations of serious cashflow in...they failed the next step and didn't use that surplus windfall in any "value added" manner.

    I can sell my spiffy new invented hammer and saw design one time, or I can use this innovation in the market place directly and build a lot of furniture and houses with my new hammer and saw, beating my competition handily, and make a lot more. This gives me ten times the potential budget to play with for more R&D and then manufacturing gains.

    CSIRO does some good research, but in the end after all is said and done, once you follow the economic breadcrumbs around, manufacturing is the big kahuna on making loot, and China still gets it for free or chump change and makes the real serious moolah from that same research (same as they are doing with every other nation's R&D now). Selling raw R&D-failing to use it yourself- is no different at all from selling any other "raw" natural resource, like mideast oil. Ya, you can make some money, sometimes big money, but never the ultimate serious money.

    Ideas are cheap on the global scale, implementation of those ideas makes the hugemongous national trade surpluses. CSIRO does implement their ag research domestically, but the other..not sure what they do with it other than try to sell it cheap, and even then they are forced to sue to get a little. And frankly, a billion dollars for wifi? That's chump change on the international scene. Better than nothing, but still just selling off raw resources (oz brains in this case) cheap.

    I wouldn't feel bad about it, and don't take it as a dig against Australia (sort of a joke there..) because most nations are doing that now, they have more or less conceded world economic dominance to China for short term profits and some cheap consumer trinkets, a couple generations worth, then..that stuff won't be all that cheap anymore. China will reach a point they can demand more, they won't have to sell cheap, once they have more or less completely squashed manufacturing elsewhere, and also built up their own R&D establishment.

  • by atmurray ( 983797 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @11:56PM (#32427600)
    The CSIRO is playing the same rules that apply to everyone. The reason why the big company's aren't happy is that the CSIRO has no need to do a patent "swap". Normally, the big companies would just threaten to sue each other due to patent infringement and then at the last minute agree to cross licensing [] with a minimal (if any) amount of money trading hands. However, the CSIRO doesn't make end product. As such they have no need for cross licensing. They just want royalties for their IP. Big business goes after the smaller guys that don't have IP to cross license all the time, why is it that now the shoe is on the other foot that everyone is up in arms about it?
  • Re:Duverger's law (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Surt ( 22457 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @12:30AM (#32427780) Homepage Journal

    I'd say it would happen something along the lines of the tea party movement. Get liked by one side of the MSM more than the existing party representing that media. In this case, FOX, tired of the Republicans hewing too close to the center, decided to throw in their lot with the tea party.

  • Re:Duverger's law (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @07:41AM (#32429624) Homepage

    Well that has to be the silliest statement, The Tea Party was a fabrication of News Corp via Fox News. It was nothing more that a short term publicity show to create an illusion of a grass roots movement that was intended to be folded back into the lobbyist controlled Republican party. It was a Rupert Murdoch response to the power of the internet to alter the political status quo and to drive actual real publicly motivated policies.

    The Tea Party is a mass media sham, well at least that was the intention, oh my. Fox News of course lost control of the Tea Party as in fractured into three groups. Group 1 was of course the News Corp lobbyists grass roots sham, same old same old, of less government for the poor and more government for the rich and, deregulation to grease corruption powered by mass media. Group 2 were actual conservatives who wanted to reform the Republican party more than they want to win the next election ie. no point winning with corrupt corporate losers. Group 3, radical and all over the place, from racists to angry tax cheats to religious fundamentalists. Now of course News Corp is trying to reign in the Tea Party but driving out the non lobbyists controlled elements, which eliminates the bulk of the real grass root elements, rendering the Tea Party largely to insignificance, except in a few hold out areas that a fending off Fox News control.

    Government funded research is often far more cost efficient for the public, in fact no comparison a the patent inflated prices of corporate research. Never forget, from a public perspective lower costs for the public are of far more benefit than inflated corporate profits for the minority.

I've got a bad feeling about this.