CSIRO Taxes Innovators To Fund Innovators?

from the how's-that-work-now? dept

A few years back, the Australian tech research agency CSIRO was awarded a patent with several claims over basic concepts used in WiFi. While we have tremendous problems with the idea of any government agency patenting anything, CSIRO wielded this patent and aggressively fought against a bunch of large tech companies, and it recently convinced them to pay a $200 million settlement. At some point, tech firms realize it's often just cheaper to pay up than to keep fighting a bogus patent claim.

So now it's interesting to see CSIRO claim that it's taking $150 million of the $200 million and investing it in innovation (found via Slashdot). So... basically, it sued the companies that actually innovated (brought working products to market) and got them to cough up money that CSIRO is going to invest in innovation? Why not just leave the original innovators with their money to keep innovating?


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  1.  
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    keven sutton, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 10:00pm

    50 mil

    "Why not just leave the original innovators with their money to keep innovating?"

    to be blatant...

    Because then they wouldn't walk away with a cool 50 mil, duh.

     

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  2.  
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    Ilfar, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 10:10pm

    NEW Innovators

    It shall be a new age of innovation, founded on the ruins of the old innovators, and created in such a way that they have more control and a stake in the new innovators!

    Or something like that... :P

     

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  3.  
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    Doug Robb, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 10:26pm

    Patent is a Patent.

    Using your argument you may as well do away with patents altogether? The very people paying up at the moment are the ones with large patent lists of their own so I hardly think they would think that's a good idea.

    The integrity of the patent system depends on original inventors being able to protect their work. Corporations that put product to market without patent clearances do so at their own risk and when they are caught out fair and square we don't need to feel sorry for them!

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 10:44pm

    This is ridiculous. The CSIRO had a perfectly legitimate *hardware* patent that is not at all obvious and used by the large tech companies! Even the rabid slashdot masses have come to accept this. I respect your coverage of patent trolls but the CSIRO aren't patent troll.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 10:56pm

    Re: Patent is a Patent.

    "The integrity of the patent system depends on original inventors being able to protect their work. Corporations that put product to market without patent clearances do so at their own risk and when they are caught out fair and square we don't need to feel sorry for them!"

    This is just another example of how patents harm innovation. The patent holder, who didn't come up with the idea first but merely patented it first (the first to patent a solution to a new problem, a problem that doesn't need a patent to be solved) gets a patent and doesn't innovate with it. But instead it HINDERS innovation by preventing others from advancing the idea. This only demonstrates how patents harm innovation and/or the advancement thereof. It prevents new innovations from making it to market because no one can put a product to market without patent clearance. Hence, all new products must first have patent clearance which is just a legal process that makes it more cumbersome to put products to market and if they do go to market it grants a monopoly on whoever holds the patent to either monopolize it or for the patent troll, who doesn't innovate but only grabs obvious patents, to sue the innovators who put it to market.

    Seriously, why should anyone need some legal bureaucracy "clearing" a product before it's allowed to sell it. Sounds like communism almost, where the government gets to choose who can and can't sell what and the government interferes and controls the free market.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 11:01pm

    Re:

    Lets also not forget that CSIRO gets government grants (ie: http://www.csiro.au/files/mediaRelease/mr1999/BetterPesticides.htm ).

    So we have an organization that uses government grants to fund its research suing others for patent infringement. How is that fair? Taxpayers pay for (at least some of the) R&D and then taxpayers are stuck having to pay monopoly rents for the outcome.

     

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  7.  
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    Pseudonym, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 11:35pm

    Re: Re:

    The companies that paid up the $200 million between them did not pay a single cent (either USD or AUD) to find the CSIRO's research.

    If your argument is that the CSIRO and organisations like it are underfunded and really should get more money instead of having to partly live off patent licensing, then that's something you should take up with your Member of Parliament.

     

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  8.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 11:49pm

    Re: Patent is a Patent.

    Doug Robb wrote:

    The integrity of the patent system depends on original inventors being able to protect their work.

    Funny how, the moment people use the word “protect” with relation to inventions, they invariably mean “protect from competition”.

    A patent is a monopoly. Monopolies are anti-competitive. That’s all there is to it.

     

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  9.  
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    Pseudonym, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 11:51pm

    Re: Patent is a Patent.

    Using your argument you may as well do away with patents altogether?

    It's not a completely dumb idea. The "natural state" of ideas is that they cannot be owned. Patents, like copyrights, are a tradeoff which allows creators to get a limited monopoly in return for the public getting full disclosure so, after a reasonable time, they get full use of the invention. It does, therefore, make sense to periodically check if the tradeoff is still doing what it's supposed to.

    Honestly, though, I don't get the backlash in the CSIRO case. This case could easily be a poster child for how the patent system is supposed to work. The CSIRO did everything right: they came up with a novel invention for a tangible device and fully disclosed it to all parties so they were well aware of it before the standards were made.

     

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    Noel Clark (profile), Oct 21st, 2009 @ 11:57pm

    CSIRO has a right to benefit from its inventions

    The snide implication that CSIRO patent claims were bogus is an appalling attack on the integrity of the scientists involved. The guys from radio astronomy took a research direction that others had never thought of and filed a patent. Then these wonderful tech companies took the information disclosed in the patent and built billions of dollars of profit around it, without acknowledgement and without payment of a red cent.

    CSIRO gets only a proportion of its funding from the Federal Government and even this has been falling in real terms for the last 25 years. Even though CSIRO ranks in the top one per cent of world scientific institutions in 13 research fields, staff numbers continue to fall as a result of lack of support from both sides of politics. Just to put this in perspective, the $200M will just about cover the shortfall in CSIRO’s external earnings that resulted from the GFC.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 12:02am

    CSIRO were the original innovators, not the tech companies who attempted to rip them off. There was nothing bogus about their patent, a view supported by the courts. Powerful companies with deep pockets dont roll over and pay up if they think they have case.

     

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  12.  
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    Sasha, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 1:23am

    I am very dissappointed by your attacks on CSIRO. I enjoy reading articles here on TechDirt with great ideas and insights about copyright and patents.

    You have often attacked patent troll which I agree with.

    But CSIRO is a research organisation that does research and developement. They actually invent, create and discover new ways, and are completely governement funded. They work with industry to solve problems faced by farmers (and other industries) in Australia and worldwide.

    Their research into the fundatmentals of WiFi was used by manufacturers to implement. Given time someone else may have come up with it, no issue there. But CSIRO did the work on tax payer funded money.

    Commercial corpartions are profiting from this research. It is only fair that the commercial corpoations pay for the original work performed by CSIRO from which they are profiting from. $200 million for wifi? that is nothing compared to the profits the companies have made.

    CSIRO is not a patent troll. They do actually invent create and develop new ideas. Give them their royalities to fund their future inventions that we all benefit from.

     

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  13.  
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    Andrew D. Todd, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 1:36am

    Patent Fraud By The State.

    On examination, I found the CSIRO patent (U. S. Patent 5,487,069) to be an intentional troll patent, one which deliberately seeks to avoid disclosing relevant prior art, particularly in the form of standardizing and rationalizing textbooks. These references were concealed in the hope of defrauding an American patent examiner, for the greater glory of the Australian state.

    Here is a previous comment in which I cite numerous prior art sources relating to networking.

    http://www.techdirt.com/article.php?sid=20090317/1826164156#c420

    I dug out my copy of D. W. Davies, et. al. _Computer Networks and their Protocols_, (1979), and discovered from the booksellers' marks that I had purchased it from a holy roller baptist church's thrift store, on the edge of a Philadelphia slum, at about the same time that CSIRO was filing its patent application, for one dollar and ninety-one cents. I am fairly confident that the CSIRO researchers must have possessed a copy of Davies, though of course they paid much more for theirs than I did for mine. They must have known what they were doing. Inside a government establishment, there were hundreds of people whom they could talk to without reserve. It wasn't like a small start-up company. There's this whole academic culture in which people are encouraged to sprawl back in their chairs during symposiums, and say, patronizingly, "But isn't this just a special case of..." It's even more fun if you adopt a fake lower-working-class accent, Cockney in Australia, or Hillbilly-Cracker in the United States. In academic culture, the emphasis is on working out the general abstract case, which gets enshrined in textbooks. In computer networking, the most significant general idea is the OSI Layer/Stack model. It just isn't credible that the CSIRO researchers didn't know about the standard textbooks. It reminds me of the famous aphorism, "If we did for ourselves what we do for Italy, what scoundrels we should be," attributed to Camillo Cavour, the first prime minister of a united Italy. "If we did for ourselves what we do for Australia..."

     

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  14.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 2:08am

    Re: CSIRO has a right to benefit from its inventions

    Noel Clark wrote:

    The snide implication that CSIRO patent claims were bogus is an appalling attack on the integrity of the scientists involved.

    Why? Just because they’re good scientists, bright and hardworking, with a credible body of work accumulated to date, doesn’t mean that patents are a good idea. They were funded by taxpayers; why shouldn’t their inventions belong to the public who paid for them?

    The guys from radio astronomy took a research direction that others had never thought of and filed a patent.

    No invention exists in a vacuum; all ideas build on those that have gone before. If you have an automatic right to payment for your idea, shouldn’t you also automatically have to pay out 99% of that to all the ideas that have gone before? After all, that’s about the proportion you’re contributing, compared to how much you’re making use of the contributions of others. Standing on the shoulders of giants, and all that.

    CSIRO gets only a proportion of its funding from the Federal Government and even this has been falling in real terms for the last 25 years. Even though CSIRO ranks in the top one per cent of world scientific institutions in 13 research fields, staff numbers continue to fall as a result of lack of support from both sides of politics.

    So CSIRO’s funding model is screwed, why is that a reason for the rest of the world to suffer? Or care?

    Face it: nobody has a monopoly on innovation. If those bright folk can’t come up with their ideas at CSIRO, they’ll do it somewhere else.

     

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  15.  
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    LS, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 3:21am

    Disappointed in Techdirt

    Very disappointed to see this post on Techdirt.

    You clearly know nothing about the CSIRO.

     

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  16.  
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    Jamie, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 3:43am

    What?

    I really like this site, but this time Mike you've gotten it all wrong.

    And to be totally open, I work in radio astronomy in CSIRO, and we're all celebrating this settlement.

    You say that CSIRO didn't innovate and produce products here, but that is completely incorrect. The patent came from the need to do science, and products were made from the technology in the patent. At the time the invention was made, and the patent granted, CSIRO took the invention to other companies but they couldn't see the use. Wireless networking just couldn't be envisaged at that point.

    And after CSIRO found that their invention was being used, they tried to negotiate with the companies, but were turned away. Their first step wasn't to go legal.

    The ABC program Catalyst recently produced a program on the WiFi patent, and it can be found here:
    http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/2708730.htm

    And if you can't view that from outside Australia (I haven't tried - I'm in Australia) then it was shown on the 8th October 2009 program - I'm sure you could find a torrent for it. I recommend you view it, I learned from it too.

    Now let's be clear: I don't personally think patents are a great idea, and if CSIRO hadn't been granted a patent on this technology and people had been able to use this invention freely and without cost, then who knows how things would have turned out. But your baseless attack on CSIRO is quite appalling. It does make me wonder about the research you give to other stories on this site.

     

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  17.  
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    Pete Austin, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 3:43am

    It's about Nationality

    The innovators are US companies, and CSIRO is taking their money to give to Australians. Duh.

    Patenting this kind of technology is as stupid as dividing ownership of a beach revealed by the tide. There's slightly more sand visible after each batch of waves and it shouldn't matter a damn if someone sees it slightly ahead of the rest.

     

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  18.  
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    Sasha, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 5:46am

    My second wieghin.

    By all means go after Patent trolls, I think everyone agrees with this point.

    CSIRO develops new ideas and demonstrates them working everyday. They are not into production or manufacturing. They, like every other research body needs to secure funding for the next project. What is wrong with this?

    How many patents have they gone after in the courts? I am sure it is far less than various other patent trolls documented on this website.

     

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  19.  
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    slashdot, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 5:56am

    Re:

    "rabid slashdot masses"

    lol wut

     

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  20.  
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    govmt owned monopoly, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 5:59am

    wwcd

    What would CSIRO do

     

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  21.  
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    Jesse, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 7:13am

    Robin Hood of the patent world?

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 8:30am

    One should watch the above cited video to get a top level overview of what researchers faced during the process of solving a problem that they believed could be very usefully employed within the private sector.

    From what I have been able to gather, it does seems as if CISRO is somewhat akin to government research labs within the US; namely the DOD's DARPA and the DOE's National Laboratories such as Oak Ridge, Sandia, etc. None of these labs are devoted to "innovation" as defined by Mr. Masnick. They appear devoted to basic research and to the initial stages of applied research. Actual productization, i.e., taking such research and applying it to real world projects is the presumed role of the private sector. It appears that in the case of this invention the system worked. The R&D was performed by one entity, and the results thereof were taken and used by companies in the private sector.

    According to CISRO's site, it seems to appear a common program that would fit withing Mr. Masnick's definition of innovation would be for CISRO and private sector companies to team together to convert an idea into an invention, turn the invention into a working prototype, turn the prototype into a working product, and then introducing the working product into the commercial market. In such arrangements private sector dollars would help provide some of the funding for the research and arrangements made withing contractual instruments defining all financial arrangements, both during the project and thereafter.

    It seems that here we have a disconnect from the customary arrangement. CISRO does the work on its dollars, the private sector gets the benefit of the work without having provided any support to CISRO, and then the private sector moves forward with CISRO left holding the bag without any income stream to support is ongoing research operations.

    Given the ubiquitousness of WiFi, I can only wonder what would have happened if the research had been left up to the private sector companies, most of which devote their R&D dollars to applied research. Would it have been eventually invented, a standard selected, and then deployed into the market? Probably, but then again basic research helps jumpstart the process in many instances so that market introduction can take place earlier than might otherwise have been the case.

    One can only wonder what would be the current state of the internet had not DARPA been the motivating force that led to the creation and deployment of the ARPANET?

    BTW, $200M is peanuts to the companies in the private sector having the capability of taking a product to market. For a lab like CISRO, it is anything but that, and a very welcome infusion of revenue that helps support projects that may yield yet another breakthrough well in advance of what might happen otherwise.

    To even imply/suggest that CISRO was totally out of line in this particular instance ignores the reality of how R&D dollars are secured and allocated.

     

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  23.  
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    staff3, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 8:53am

    stop the shilling!!!

    "tech firms realize it's often just cheaper to pay up than to keep fighting a bogus patent claim"

    definition of "bogus patent claim": patent owned by adversary of those who pay you to write this garbage.

     

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  24.  
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    bvpb, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 3:25pm

    Silence

    Why is it that Mike remains largely silent in the comments regarding this patent?

    Especially when a number of commenters are calling him out on it.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 3:52pm

    Re: Silence

    Likely because discomfort causes him discomfort. Best to keep quiet and hope the matter goes away.

     

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  26.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 4:48pm

    Re: Silence

    Why is it that Mike remains largely silent in the comments regarding this patent?

    Only so much time in the day and had lots to do. Will try to answer a few now.

     

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  27.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 4:48pm

    Re:

    This is ridiculous. The CSIRO had a perfectly legitimate *hardware* patent that is not at all obvious and used by the large tech companies! Even the rabid slashdot masses have come to accept this. I respect your coverage of patent trolls but the CSIRO aren't patent troll.

    I don't care about trolls or not trolls. I care about innovation. Suing companies who are actually innovating is not innovation and is quite troublesome to me.

    I'm sorry if that hasn't been clear.

     

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  28.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 4:51pm

    Re: CSIRO has a right to benefit from its inventions

    CSIRO has a right to benefit from its inventions

    Sure. By putting in place a reasonable business model. I do not consider suing others who innovate a reasonable business model.

    The snide implication that CSIRO patent claims were bogus is an appalling attack on the integrity of the scientists involved.

    No. It's a legitimate attack on the integrity of the patent system and how it is used.

    Then these wonderful tech companies took the information disclosed in the patent and built billions of dollars of profit around it, without acknowledgement and without payment of a red cent.

    So you are saying that the folks at CSIRO had a bad business model, and these tech companies had a smarter business model. Why are we punishing the companies with the good business model?

    CSIRO gets only a proportion of its funding from the Federal Government and even this has been falling in real terms for the last 25 years. Even though CSIRO ranks in the top one per cent of world scientific institutions in 13 research fields, staff numbers continue to fall as a result of lack of support from both sides of politics. Just to put this in perspective, the $200M will just about cover the shortfall in CSIRO’s external earnings that resulted from the GFC.

    If it's such a great institution, you would think they'd have come up with better business plans by now.

     

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  29.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 4:55pm

    Re:

    I am very dissappointed by your attacks on CSIRO. I enjoy reading articles here on TechDirt with great ideas and insights about copyright and patents.

    I'm sorry you feel that way.


    You have often attacked patent troll which I agree with.


    My position is that I'm against bad uses of patents. It has nothing to do with whether or not the holder is a "troll."

    But CSIRO is a research organisation that does research and developement. They actually invent, create and discover new ways, and are completely governement funded.

    Yes, indeed. And good for them. Again, though, if it's gov't funded, the results should be in the public domain.


    Their research into the fundatmentals of WiFi was used by manufacturers to implement. Given time someone else may have come up with it, no issue there. But CSIRO did the work on tax payer funded money.


    Both arguments here seem to support my position that CSIRO deserved no money from others.

    Commercial corpartions are profiting from this research. It is only fair that the commercial corpoations pay for the original work performed by CSIRO from which they are profiting from. $200 million for wifi? that is nothing compared to the profits the companies have made.

    All that says is that CSIRO failed to come out with a product of its own. If it was really so far ahead of the others, it could have cleaned up in the market place.

     

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  30.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 4:56pm

    Re: Disappointed in Techdirt

    Very disappointed to see this post on Techdirt.

    Why?

    You clearly know nothing about the CSIRO.

    I know quite a bit about it, actually. But my concern is not about CSIRO, but about patents and how they impact innovation.

     

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  31.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 4:59pm

    Re: What?

    And to be totally open, I work in radio astronomy in CSIRO, and we're all celebrating this settlement.

    Of course. It's not every day you get $200 million. I'd be celebrating too! That doesn't mean it's good for overall innovation, though...

    You say that CSIRO didn't innovate and produce products here, but that is completely incorrect. The patent came from the need to do science, and products were made from the technology in the patent. At the time the invention was made, and the patent granted, CSIRO took the invention to other companies but they couldn't see the use. Wireless networking just couldn't be envisaged at that point.

    And so? That seems to higlight the point. When you created it, there was no market for it. You were unable to help create the market. These other companies *created the market*. Thus they deserve to profit from it.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 6:01pm

    Based upon the contents of many comments in this thread, I have to wonder just how many of the commenters actually work within the R&D process (including not only how it is performed, but also how it is funded)? Many of the comments seem to demonstrate a lack of understanding concerning the process.

     

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  33.  
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    TechNoFear (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 6:54pm

    Re: Patent Fraud By The State.

    "Cockney in Australia,"

    How can we trust you to get your facts right when you can't even get the origin of a simple accent right?

    Cockney (rhyming slang) is English (UK) not Australian. ['Ocker']

    I also fail to see how a 1979 text could possibly mention the speed issues caused by relected radio waves the CSIRO solved.

     

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  34.  
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    TechNoFear (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 7:03pm

    Re: Re:

    Mike you make it sound like the CSIRO is suing anyone who built on top of their work (implying the 'on top' part is the most important).

    Rather than suing a company that used the CSIRO's inovation without paying for a license.

    There is a difference between taking existing technology and finding an new use AND adding someone else's new inovation/improvement to your existing product.

    What exactly did these companies ADD to the CSIRO's work?

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 7:04pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    No, I am arguing that they already get money from taxes and that they shouldn't receive patents.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 7:08pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "The companies that paid up the $200 million between them did not pay a single cent (either USD or AUD) to find the CSIRO's research."

    The point, which you miss, is that taxpayers fund at least some of the research and so there should be no patents.

    "If your argument is that the CSIRO and organisations like it are underfunded"

    No, my argument is that they receive government grants and should not also get patents on top of those government grants. The public funds research PLUS the public must pay monopoly prices on the results of the research. The public gets shortchanged TWICE.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 7:27pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "If your argument is that the CSIRO and organisations like it are underfunded and really should get more money instead of having to partly live off patent licensing"

    No, my argument is that they get patents and so the government money they are already given should be taken away.

     

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  38.  
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    Samuel, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 9:35pm

    Re: Re: What?

    The companies have profited from it. $200 million is only a small part of the profit made from wifi.

     

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  39.  
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    Unbelievable, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 10:06pm

    "My position is that I'm against bad uses of patents." Mike Masnick

    You haven't explained why this is a bad use of patents.

    CSIRO performed innovative research and then (to a large extent) defined the relevant standards. They then requested manufacturers license the technology, why is this bad?

    When these LARGE GLOBAL CORPORATIONS then turn around an steal the results of CSIROs hard work, why shouldn't they be sued?
    Why is it that only the product manufacturers get to be labeled "innovative"?

    Mike, you claim this was a "bogus patent claim". What would a valid patent claim look like?

    Unbelievable...
    (A flabbergasted, long time techdirt reader)

     

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  40.  
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    John, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 10:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, the Australian public who paid the initial taxes end up paying American companies for wi-fi, who get the technology for free.

    The idea that an Australian invention should be free for American companies to profit on because Australian taxpayers paid for it is ludicrous.

    The public, Australian and worldwide get Wi-fi because the CSIRO solved the issue. They chose to specialize in basic research and licence their technology. The CSIRO announced they would happily universally licence the technology which is why the standard committee allowed it. Freely available allows competition and further innovation, not free.

    Mikes idea that the only true and noble way to make money from an invention, innovation or good idea is to invent, prototype, market and manufacture all by yourself is silly.
    Specialise. Licence your technology. Go back to doing what you do best.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 4:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    What exactly did these companies ADD to the CSIRO's work?

    A product the market wanted.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 4:45am

    Re:

    You haven't explained why this is a bad use of patents.

    Because it was used to tax companies that successfully found a market for a product.

    CSIRO performed innovative research and then (to a large extent) defined the relevant standards. They then requested manufacturers license the technology, why is this bad?

    Because that's not a business model. You don't "request someone license something," you sell something. If you don't, you don't have a business model.

    When these LARGE GLOBAL CORPORATIONS then turn around an steal the results of CSIROs hard work, why shouldn't they be sued?

    You can't steal an idea.

    Mike, you claim this was a "bogus patent claim". What would a valid patent claim look like?

    I'll let you know when I find one.

    Unbelievable...
    (A flabbergasted, long time techdirt reader)


    I'm really sorry you feel that way. But my position has been consistent on this. I cannot support a use of patents that involve it acting as a tollbooth on companies bringing products to market.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 10:30am

    The CSIRO Patent Looks Even Worse The More Closely You Examine It.

    To: TechNoFear (Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 6:54pm):

    Human linguistics is vastly more complicated than mere technical matter. I don't claim to be an expert on Australia.

    I was amused to find that you think of the year 1979 as ancient antiquity. It shows how very young you must be.

    It is important to look at old textbooks, to get a sense of how little the patentees of a given patent actually invented, and how much is simply unattributed matter, what in academic terms would be called plagiarism. To take one example, the 5,487,069 patent relies on Forward Error Correction in many of its dependent claims. Forward Error Correction is a new name for Error-Correcting Codes. R.W. Hamming, in his article on Error-Correcting Codes. for Anthony Ralston's _Encyclopedia of Computer Science_ (1976), cites a general textbook dated 1961, and a later book attempting to treat the subject in terms of abstract algebra, dated 1968. All of this stuff goes really far back. It is obvious to plug a standard error correction technique into a standard framework, in the designated slot for an error correction system.

    Now, let us look closely at Patent 5,487,069. It has the following nominally independent claims: 1, 10, 17, 26, 33, 42, 49, 56, and 68. However, while claims 10, 17, 26, 33, 42, 49, 56, and 68 are nominally independent, they are actually substantial copies of claim 1, not even paraphrased, but cut and pasted, with the addition of minor additional clauses (such as error correction), and in some cases, the deletion of conditions (typically the requirement of a minimum 10 Ghz frequency, which would let standard Wi-Fi out). The beginning of claim 1, the only truly independent claim, first describes the very notion of a standard wireless modem system (along the same lines as a cellphone), and goes on:

    "...and said transmission signal processing means comprising modulation means for modulating input data of said input data channel into a plurality of sub-channels comprised of a sequence of data symbols..."

    for which there is prior art, as exemplified by the touch-tone dialing system, and concludes:

    "...such that the period of a sub-channel symbol is longer than a predetermined period representative of the time delay of significant ones of non-direct transmission paths."

    In other words, "talk slowly to give the echoes time to settle." That is all the patent boils down to. It does _not_ propose a method for using the theoretical capacity of a high-frequency carrier signal in a congested environment, or anything like that, which might fall under the heading of an "unanticipated result." Talk slowly to give the echoes time to settle. Truly the mountain has labored and brought forth a mouse.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 11:14am

    Re: Re:

    "Because that's not a business model. You don't "request someone license something," you sell something. If you don't, you don't have a business model."

    By this logic then I suppose this organization should cease pursuing basic research and initial applied research and do a makeover by converting itself into an organization for hire, selling its research services to the private sector.

    This sounds a bit self-defeating in that it limits the direction its research can take, a rather important part of the "innovation process".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 12:38pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    By this logic then I suppose this organization should cease pursuing basic research and initial applied research and do a makeover by converting itself into an organization for hire, selling its research services to the private sector.

    Huh? I implied no such thing. All I was saying was that you can't just set up shop and demand people give you money. Already CSIRO is gov't funded -- which is how a lot of basic research gets funded these days.

    There's nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't give you an excuse to sue others.

    And there's nothing wrong with combining a basic research operation with an applied research operation that has a good business model.

    You seem to be suggesting that because an organization does basic research everyone should just agree to give it money, rather than having the operation need to come up with a business model.

    I don't get that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
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    TechNoFear (profile), Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 8:14pm

    Re: The CSIRO Patent Looks Even Worse The More Closely You Examine It.

    Don't you have a masters in Anthropology?

    I suggest you don't make sarcastic jokes about other cultures, unless you do your research first.

    I suppose it shows the difference between people with only theoretical knowledge and those with real world experience.

    BTW If you submitted your masters in '88, I an half a decade older than you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, Oct 25th, 2009 @ 1:23am

    The CSIRO Patent Looks Even Worse The More Closely You Examine It.

    With reference to the crucial final clause of Patent 5,487,069, claim 1, which constitutes the whole essence of this patent, consider Merrill I. Skolnick, _Introduction to Radar Systems_, 1962, p. 57 (Sect 2.10, "Pulse Repetition Frequency and Range Ambiguities"), and Robert E. Machol, et. al., System Engineering Handbook, 1965 (p. 14-13, "Clutter Reduction of Pulse Groups") both deal with the closely related problem of pulse interference in radar ranging. Machol's language is interesting: "The conventional pulse radar has its repetition frequency chosen to provide unambiguous range information on the target group of interest to the system." Skolnick teaches a practice of automatically varying the repetition frequency to filter out "ghosts." A "person of ordinary inventiveness," as defined by KSR v. Teleflex, might be expected to apply this to the related problem of radio communication.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Open Innovation Cavil, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 11:41pm

    Trolls

    Actually, its rather complex. When companies use another company's intellectual property, they must license it or face the consequences of infringement which can be dire, including serious damages in the event of litigation. Just the costs of litigation are very high. Even worse of course is the danger of injunction, in which a court may stop an infringing company from conducting its infringing business activity - which can cost many millions a day in some cases.

    When CSIRO (or Universities) use a company's intellectual property (as the WiFi team did, and as all other researchers in the public sector do every day in hundreds of cases) they do so without license, and without any consequence. CSIRO is not sued for patent infringement (in this case, the suit was a countersuit for patent invalidity), nor injoined from their normal activity, which is research. Using public and often private money under contract. But rarely under license!

    So in truth, they have all the 'up-side' with none of the downside of being exposed to patent infringement and potential damages. They want the cake and eat it too. So in fact, they and other public agencies who patent without in-licensing and facing the huge costs and exposure of real innovation practice, really are trolls of a kind. If their work was available with full attribution to anyone, it would be a public good that all companies, big and small, could use to create wealth in society.

    This really is what public agencies could do very well. But now, the testosterone mist of patent lawyers in CSIRO and Universities will taint public IP policy for the next decade...."when's the next big one"?

    CSIRO's win is good public policy's loss.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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