CSIRO nets $220m in Wi-Fi settlement

CSIRO nets $220m in Wi-Fi settlement

Summary: The CSIRO has been awarded $220 million after settling litigation against companies in the US to license its wireless local area network (WLAN) technology.


The CSIRO has been awarded $220 million after settling litigation against companies in the US to license its wireless local area network (WLAN) technology.

The national science agency has been suing companies that have been using the technology, invented by a team of CSIRO scientists in the 1990s, without a licence.

One case against US carriers AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile was set to go before a Texas court in April; however, mid-March, a report surfaced that CSIRO was in negotiations to settle the dispute. Now, CSIRO has settled with these and other firms considered to be infringing on its technology patents.

In 2009, CSIRO recouped $205 million after settling cases against 14 companies, including Microsoft, Fujitsu and Asus.

Since then, the agency has notched up licence agreements with 23 companies.

"CSIRO will receive more than $220 million from this round of WLAN licensing," Minister for Science and Research Chris Evans said in a statement on Sunday.

More than 5 billion products incorporating the invention — including laptop computers, smartphones, games devices and consumer media products — will have been sold by the time the patents expire in 2013.

The CSIRO now has licence agreements with companies representing about 90 per cent of the industry, with total revenue earned from the technology more than $430 million.

The lead inventor of the technology, John O'Sullivan, was awarded the 2009 Prime Minister's Award for Science.

Topics: Broadband, Emerging Tech, Legal, Networking, NBN, Wi-Fi

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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  • Government employed scientists in CSIRO and DSTO lose their intellectual property rights on joining those organisations. At least the CSIRO scientists get public recognition of their work. not so DSTO scientists. Nulka has earned the Australian government close to a billion dollars yet the Australian inventors are unknown.
    Alexander Biggs
  • Seems that CSIRO is selling it off a bit cheap to me.
    If the average retail price of those 5 billion devices using the technology was, lets say $100, then given that CSIRO's gets all up $430 million for the lot then their take would be about 0.1 cents out of each device. Not much considering the importance of the technology to the devices.
    Granted, my average $100 per device was an educated guess and may be way out. I also may be oversimplifying the case but it would appear that CSIRO could have done much better in it's negotiations with the device manufacturers.
  • I agree it's been sold off incredibly cheaply. Being an Australian public company I would have thought the rewards should be shared back into the Government coffers but should have been in the billions, not the millions. $1 from every device would reap several billion dollars I would have thought...
  • Seems a bit two-faced??? Didn't the CSIRO spend most of the 80s and early nineties destroying (Criminally) all the private Solar Cell manufacturers?
    Dont BHP and the CSIRO now hold the monopoly on these devices???
    Bunch of criminals!