CSIRO Wants To Expand Its WiFi Tax: Sues Mobile Operators

from the no-wifi-without-paying-up dept

Every time we mention CSIRO, the Australian government-owned research group that claims to hold a patent on the basic concept behind WiFi, we get angry comments from people at CSIRO who claim that we've got it all wrong, and that even if they agree with us in general on patents, CSIRO's WiFi patent and the hundreds of millions of dollars it sucks from companies doing actual innovation, is perfectly reasonable. Uh huh. Of course, we still have problems with the idea that any government organization ought to be patenting anything. However, following the decision by a bunch of tech companies sued by CSIRO to pay $250 million to settle the giant patent lawsuit, CSIRO is coming back for more.

JohnForDummies was the first of a few of you to alert us to CSIRO's latest set of lawsuits against American tech companies, this time focusing on ISPs. Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile have all been sued, even though none actually make WiFi equipment. However, since they all have WiFi-enabled devices (some of which were almost certainly made by the tech companies who already paid up) CSIRO claims they need to pay up again. Apparently patent exhaustion is not a concept CSIRO considers valid.

Oddly, the article in The Age about this lawsuit seems to side almost entirely with CSIRO, quoting people who insist that companies have "no choice but to pay up" and that CSIRO has the right to demand licenses from the "entire industry." It also quotes someone who falsely claims that the only reason companies would agree to settle is if they knew they were going to lose. That's not even close to true. Lots of companies settle patent disputes because it's often cheaper to do so. And, even if they think they can win, oftentimes their shareholders don't like the uncertainty and push for a faster settlement.

The Age article also provides some more background on the patents in question, highlighting that they're based on mathematical equations created in a 1977 paper. As JohnForDummies points out, mathematical equations are not supposed to be patentable...

Filed Under: australia, csiro, patents, wifi
Companies: at&t, csiro, t-mobile, verizon wireless


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  1. identicon
    Here we go again, 2 Jun 2010 @ 7:58am

    Patents, Guns and P2P

    I find it interesting that on this blog when there is talk of infringement no one blames P2P software. When someone get killed by a gun no one blames the gun. But when someone sues over a patent you blame the patent. At the end of the day people are making the decisions to sue, patents by themselves do not do anything. Guns don't kill people, people kill people. We should not ban patents any more than we should ban guns. I'm all for patent reform but there really is no reason to abolish patents. I would agree that patents are too easy to obtain, as guns are too in some places. However, at the end of the day its the people making the decisions that are the real problem. Blaming patents is a case of 3rd party liability - same as blaming P2P software for infringement or blaming Winchester when someone gets shot.

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