CSIRO settles wireless battle

CSIRO has settled its patent battle out of court

The Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation (CSIRO) has settled its wireless technology patent battle out of court against some of the world’s technology giants, and plans to use the financial windfall to fund new research.

The CSIRO today announced that the patent case, fought in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, over royalties over its patented wireless technology, has successfully ended.

"CSIRO has negotiated settlement with each of the 14 companies involved in four concurrent litigation cases. The commercial terms of the settlements with these companies will remain confidential," the agency said in a statement.

In 2005, the agency sued HP, Microsoft, Intel, Dell, Netgear, Toshiba, 3Com, Nintendo, D-Link and Buffalo Technologies, 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.

Alex Zelinksy group executive information and communication sciences and technology at the CSIRO said he was pleased with the outcome of the claim.

"This is a huge result for Australia as Australian property rights have been protected," he said. "I have enormous respect for the US system of IP protection; we are a foreign entity claiming infringement of property yet they have respected our claim."

Zelinksy said it was likely that the damages from the claim would be distributed between the developer(s) of the wireless technology, their department, and the wider CSIRO to be spent in a strategic fashion on longer term, 5-10 year research projects which were unlikely to attract commercial investment in the shorter term.

CSIRO chief executive Dr Megan Clark was pleased with the outcomes of the legal action.

“The WLAN technology was invented by an Australia team of scientists and so this has been an important activity for CSIRO,” Clark said.

Computer manufacturer Hewlett-Packard ended is four-year-old court case against the scientific agency earlier this month.

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

Additional reporting by Tim Lohman

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