There is no denying 2009 has been a dramatic year in the world of Australian ICT. And as the year draws to a close we thought it was time to recognise the people, products, organisations, trends and events that had the greatest influence throughout the year on the ICT industry and community by launching the inaugural Top 10 Most Influential.
The Top 10 Most Influential for 2009 kicks off with our 10th place getter —CSIRO's wireless patent win.
Computerworld will count down to the winner over the next two weeks with one article each day identifying from 10th place to number one.
Then, it’s over to you for the readers' choice award. We will open up the voting so you can decide the most influential person, product, organisation, trend or event for 2009.
We’ll publish the results on the website and in the February/March issue of Computerworld magazine.
But first, a look at why CSIRO's wireless patent win was selected as #10 in the Top 10 Most Influential in 2009.
#10 – CSIRO's wireless win
The Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation (CSIRO) decided to take on the heavy weights of the IT industry in 2005 and sued HP, Microsoft, Intel, Dell, Netgear, Toshiba, 3Com, Nintendo, D-Link, Buffalo Technologies, and others.
CSIRO claimed the companies had infringed a US patent held by the agency over its IEEE 802.11a and 802.11g Wi-Fi products, a standard used by almost every notebook and desktop wireless LAN device.
US patent 5487069 was authorised in January 1996 and covers a wireless LAN, including hubs and peer-to-peer networks.
The case had its ups and downs — notably with Buffalo Technologies gaining an injunction against CSIRO in December of 2008 — but in April this year, the agency settled the claim out of court with 14 companies.
In short, CSIRO came out victorious in what many had thought was an unwinnable fight.
The win is symbolic for many reasons, not least of which is that it proved a relatively small Australian player could take on the big boys of the ICT game.
It also boosted the financial fortunes of CSIRO to the tune of $205 million in the year to June 2009.
According to the organisation’s annual report the WLAN settlement helped turn a budgeted deficit of $34.2 million over the same period into a surplus of $122.0 million. The value of the out of court settlements, however, has remained confidential.
On the back of the win the agency has also announced it will invest up to $150 million from the proceeds into a new Science and Industry Endowment Fund.
For one of nation's leading research and development organisations and arguably for the local industry as a whole, the win is a highly influential result as it provides a much-needed boost to Australian ICT reaseach and development and shows local innovation can generate considerable financial and technological benefits to the rest of the world.
And the CSIRO’s Dr John O’Sullivan received the Prime Minister's Prize for Science and a $300,000 grant for his contribution to the development of IEEE 802.11a and 802.11g Wi-Fi products, (as well as contributions to astronomy) this year.
As a result of this historic win, the CSIRO wireless win was chosen as #10 in the inaugural Top 10 Most Influential.
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