CSIRO defeats HP in US court over Wi-Fi royalties

Settlement moves CSIRO closer to collecting 802.11 royalties

Computer manufacturer Hewlett-Packard has effectively ended a four-year-old court case against Australian scientific agency the CSIRO, which claimed its wireless computer technology is worth billions of dollars in royalties.

HP has agreed to a confidential settlement which could pave the way for other companies to follow suit.

“We have reached a settlement with Hewlett-Packard and we have no further comment due to confidentiality and ongoing litigation,” CSIRO spokesperson Huw Morgan said.

In 2005, the agency sued HP, along with other technology companies, claiming the companies had infringed a US patent held by the CSIRO over its IEEE 802.11a and 802.11g Wi-Fi products, a standard that is used by almost every notebook and desktop wireless LAN device.

The CSIRO said at the time it had offered to license its technology on “reasonable and non-discriminatory” terms but was dismissed by the industry.

In a move that rattled the nerves of those throughout the networking industry, the court imposed a permanent injunction against Buffalo Technology that stopped it from manufacturing, importing, selling or using Wi-Fi products in June 2007.

An appeal was lodged at the US Court of Appeals in Washington DC which resulted in the injunction being temporarily lifted from the Japanese vendor and its US affiliate in December last year, while the patent issue is resolved.

However, the CSIRO is continuing to battle global technology companies in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, for royalties over its patented wireless technology, such as Microsoft, Intel, Dell, Netgear, Toshiba, 3Com, Nintendo, Marvell and Buffalo.

US patent 5487069 was authorised in January 1996 and covers a wireless LAN, including hubs and peer-to-peer networks.

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