Australian research group wins Wi-Fi patent suit

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Australian research group wins Wi-Fi patent suit

Judgement moves CSIRO closer to collecting 802.11 networking royalties.

A ruling issued by a US district court could result in Wi-Fi royalties being paid to an Australian technology research group.

A judge from the Eastern Texas district of the US Federal Court ruled that Japanese firm Buffalo Technology manufactured wireless devices that violated patents held by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

If the ruling survives appeal, it could set precedent for CSIRO to claim royalties on all devices that use the 802.11a/g standard, a Wi-Fi interface that is used by most notebook and desktop wireless Lan devices today.

However, the victory may prove meaningless if CSIRO loses in two other ongoing battles.

In May 2005, Intel, Dell, HP, Microsoft, Apple and Netgear filed suits to have the CSIRO patent invalidated by a California district court.

CSIRO countered the suits claiming that, as a foreign organisation, it was immune to litigation, but the claim was rejected two months later.

US patent 5487069 was granted in January 1996. It covers the concept of a wireless Lan, including hubs and peer-to-peer networks.

An Australian newspaper predicted that the royalties could generate hundreds of millions of dollars, although CSIRO later downplayed the estimates.
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