Australian Research Organization Settles Wi-Fi Patent Litigation

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Australia's scientific research organization has reached an out-of-court settlement with 23 technology companies that will now pay to license its wireless local area networking (WLAN) technology invented in the early 1990s.

The settlement is worth AU$220 million (US$ 229 million), said Australia's Minister for Science and Research, Chris Evans, in a statement released on Sunday.

It marks the second major settlement for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), which reached an out-of-court deal in 2009 with 14 companies for AU$205 million over the same Wi-Fi technology. Those companies included HP, Microsoft, Intel, Dell, Netgear, Toshiba, 3Com, Nintendo, D-Link and Buffalo Technologies.

After failing to negotiate licensing deals with companies using the technology, CSIRO sued in 2005 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

Three billion wireless devices use CSIRO's patent, and it is expected that five billion devices will use the technology by 2013 when the patents expire, according to a statement from Nigel Poole, acting group executive of CSIRO's Information Sciences Group. The technology is incorporated in the IEEE's 802.11a and 802.11g standards.

CSIRO's researchers were awarded a patent for the technology in January 1996, which covered wireless LAN, a peer-to-peer wireless LAN, a wireless transceiver as well as a method of transmitting data.

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