Mon, Apr 02, 2012 - Page 11 News List

Australian Wi-Fi inventors win legal battle for US patent


Australian government science body the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) said yesterday it had won a multi-million dollar legal settlement in the US to license its patented technology that underpins the Wi-Fi platform worldwide.

Scientists from the agency invented the wireless local area network (WLAN) technology that is the basis of the Wi-Fi signal employed by computers, smartphones and other Internet-ready devices around the world.

The organization patented the technology in the 1990s and has been suing companies using it without a license since 2005.

In 2009, CSIRO recouped A$205 million (US$212 million) after settling cases against 14 companies. The organization said it had now been awarded a further A$220 million after reaching agreements with 23 more firms.

Australian Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Chris Evans said in a statement that it was an important battle to win.

“It was important that Australia protect its intellectual property and that those major companies who are selling billions of devices pay for the technology that they were using,” he said.

CSIRO senior executive Nigel Poole said the organization was delighted with the result.

“CSIRO’s commercial and legal teams on both sides of the Pacific have worked very hard over the past several years to gain a reasonable return and I would like to pay particular tribute to them for their extraordinary efforts,” he said.

The invention came out of pioneering work undertaken by the organization in radioastronomy, with a team of its scientists cracking the problem of radio waves bouncing off surfaces indoors, causing an echo that distorts the signal.

They overcame it by building a fast chip with the ability to transmit a signal while reducing the echo, beating many of the major communications companies around the world that were trying to solve the same issue.

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