back to article Tech giants surrender to Oz Wi-Fi boffins

Some of the world's top tech companies have run up the white flag in the face of a national science agency’s legal claim it invented key technologies behind Wi-Fi. Each of the 14 companies the agency sued for copyright infringement in 2005 has cut confidential settlements with the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and …

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Yay !

I am happy about this, because its one of the rare instances that the IP system works properly.

For those who are un aware, the background is this;

CSIRO develops the core technologies of WiFi, and offers it as a standard, on the agreement that they will patent it, and licence it back for a small fee.

Big business agrees

*time passes*

CSIRO contacts big business, and reminds them of the agreement, to which big businesses reply with a dismissive hand wave. They failed to uphold their end of the agreement, and they were making money hand over fist with the new kit.

CSIRO politely reminds them for 5 years, that they owe them money, to which big business replies with the same dismissive hand wave

CSIRO unleashes the lawyers. This is a big risk for CSIRO, as they are a small organization, and it could be an expensive case.

Big Business, suddenly realising they are in the poo, and that they owe CSIRO a LOT of money now, attempt to have the patent invalidated via various means.

It seems they have now realized they have been caught with their d**ks in the cash drawer, and rather than have the CSIRO slam the drawer, they have settled.

This will be a boon for science, as CSIRO comes up with some neat stuff.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CSIRO#Notable_Inventions

They ran the 4th ever computer in the world (On display in Melbourne Museum)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CSIRAC

This isn't a case of patent trolling. This is a case of an organization following all the rules, and big businesses trying to shaft them on it.

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Happy

Good for the CSIRO. It's nice to see...

the actual research Institution the developed the technology get paid for it. All those corporate blood suckers need to have this more often.

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Anonymous Coward

It's nice to see...

...IP justice being done - what a turnaround!

But "it likely means C bucks the Australian agency"? Could someone translate that into some semblance of English, please?

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CSIRO

I'll give this to the CSIRO - it's small (compared to some of the R&D factions out there), underpaid (again, in comparison) and generally works in obscurity.

But it has produced some very interesting patents and software on the QT, which it then quite happily licences out for a small fee to fund the next round of R&D.

You may never get rich at the CSIRO, but it's one of the last real Research establishments in the world.

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Boffin

Yay, for the Boffins!

The CSIRO is to nerds what Willy Wonka is to chocoholics!

Lab coated nerds 1

Corporate suits 0

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Happy

Huzzah!

The CSIRO is an excellent institution with a fantastic research pedigree. It's staff are generally helpful as well as being very good in their field. But the CSIRO is under almost constant ideological threat from some politicians who believe that R&D should be privately funded. In fact, CSIRO research outputs would be much more well known if it hadn't been for witless funding cutbacks in past decades or even the occasional directive to cease some R&D. Then there's business who often lobby to break up the CSIRO so that they can poach the intellectual property, and some of the scientists.

Keep up the good work, CSIRO.

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Anonymous Coward

A title is required

Nice to start the day off with a story about big biz getting it up the arse. more like this please.

(@ AC 22:47," it's likely to mean beaucoup bucks for the Australian agency"),

something wrong with your browser? what's not to understand?

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Good for CSIRO

The Big Boys like to throw their weight around when it comes to protecting their IP but don't seem to like playing the game or living by the same rules themselves. Nice to see them get a taste of their own medicine.

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Idiots

Why would it be a good thing that _any_ supplier has to increase their costs to cover licensing of an idea that was considered too obvious for a patent?

All this does is increase the price of all WiFi kit, and increases the chances of other patent trolls getting busy.

The whole reason for Higher Eduction being state-funded is so that research discoveries can benefit the whole nation.

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Anonymous Coward

@Dave

> "The whole reason for Higher Eduction being state-funded is so that research discoveries can benefit the whole nation."

Yup. And it does benefit the whole nation of Australia. If the patents weren't pursued, then effectively the Australian taxpayer would be subsidising those companies, all of them overseas.

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Unhappy

How did a proprietary technology become standard

The catch here is that it's not 802.11g, it's IEEE 802.11g. In general, IEEE tries to avoid making any proprietary technology part of a standard because it then compels users to pay licensing fees. It also requires members of standards committees to disclose relationships with vendors or informantion on known proprietary technology. IEEE reacts strongly when it discovers companies trying to manipulate the standards process to incorporate their proprietary technology and has dissolved standards committees corrupted by that process. The question is then how did this CSIRO proprietary technology become part of the standard? Did the committee not know it was proprietary, or did they assume it was obvious and therefore not patentable, or did they know it and decide it was os essential that it was necessary anyway or what?

This may be good for CSIRO; it's not good news for standards in that it likely to make more companies leary of adopting standards that might contain hidden licensing requirements. As such, it is bad news for everybody.

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Gates Horns

This isn't the only case of Aussies beating the big guys

http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/soa/Microsoft-InterTrust-iron-out-lawsuit/0,139023165,139144768,00.htm

Microsoft has been ordered to pay Intertrust $440 Million for stealing the IP of an Australian inventor. Although the articlee linked above doesn't go into the background the idea for DRM technologies that could be used to stop unauhorised software copying was offered to Microsoft way back in the '90s. After poking about inside it for a while Microsoft said "Neat idea but no thanks" and immediately went off to do a "Stacker job" on it.

In the meantime, the inventor showed it to Intertrust who went ahead and purchased it only to find later on that Microsoft had used that very same tech to produce WGA.

3 years and millions of $ in lawyers fees later MS have been told to pay up to the tune of $440 USD.

I'm not sure why this hasn't been covered on El Reg though. Seems just the thing to start the comments section flamwares going.

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Anonymous Coward

surely

something like this would only affect people manufacturing 802.11 chips and distributing them, not the people who then go on to use those chips.

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