Suppliers fight Oz's key Wi-Fi patent


Suppliers fight Oz's key Wi-Fi patent

Antony Savvas

Some of the world’s top IT suppliers are trying to cancel what is described as a key US wireless Lan patent held by the Australian government.

Microsoft, Dell, Intel, HP, Apple and Netgear are taking action to try and cancel the Wi-Fi patent held by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

CSIRO is the Australian government's national research agency. It undertakes scientific research for the purpose of assisting Australian industry.

If suppliers ultimately have to pay CSIRO to incorporate widely used Wi-Fi technology in their products, they will either have to absorb the cost or pass it on to users.

Geoff Garrett, CSIRO chief executive, said the US Wi-Fi patent was granted in 1996 and was considered essential for implementing wireless local area networks that complied with several IEEE standards. It is now a standard feature of most notebook computers and many other devices.

Garrett said CSIRO's patented system made it possible to increase the speed of Wi-Fi by “a factor of five”.

He said CSIRO “offered licences on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms to major suppliers as soon as they started selling devices which used the CSIRO technology”.

In February 2005, CSIRO began legal action in the US against Japanese-owned Buffalo Technology, which had unilaterally terminated licence negotiations with CSIRO.

Garrett said, “As part of our business we create high-quality intellectual property, and we are prepared to defend it. We actively encourage the utilisation of the results of research in industry and communities, both nationally and globally, and any royalty income will be reinvested in further research.”

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