CSIRO nets $220 million in wireless technology settlement

The Government has confirmed the CSIRO has successfully settled litigation over the licensing of its wireless local area network technology with several companies, in a move that will net the group more than $220 million.

The litigation has been ongoing for years, and the CSIRO has already settled major disputes against several companies since 2005 over the technology, now a staple in homes and offices across the world.

The WLAN technology was invented by a team of scientists in the mid-1990s and is now used in billions of devices, the CSIRO said.

Minister for science and research, Chris Evans, confirmed the settlement in a statement, saying it would be harder to imagine an Australian-invented technology that has had any greater impact.

“People all over the world are using WLAN technology, invented right here in Australia, to connect to the internet remotely from laptops, printers, game consoles and smart phones in their homes, workplaces and cafes,” Evans said.

“The work in radioastronomy by CSIRO scientists here at home is having a positive impact on the way people live right around the world.”

The CSIRO began legal action over its patent in 2005, and settled 14 major cases in 2009, which brought the organisation $205 million in fees from major companies and manufacturers. Around 90% of the industry is now covered by CSIRO license agreements, Evans said, including this latest settlement.

Although the patent is set to expire next year, Evans said more than five billion devices covered by the patent are expected to be shipped until then.

“This is a great example of how research done right here in Australia can have a huge impact right around the globe,” Evans said. “We have Australian scientists doing fantastic work that continues to impact on the way we live our lives.”

A team of scientists, including lead inventor John O’Sullivan, invented WLAN technology after solving a problem where radio waves bounce around in a closed environment, therefore distorting the signal.

The settlement also comes after Australian IT inventor Ric Richardson also struck a settlement with Microsoft, over a key piece of technology that is now included in mainstream software products.

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