US cellcos sued over WiFi patent: report

Nicole McCormick
02 Jun 2010
00:00

Australian science body CSIRO has filed a legal suit against US mobile operators Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile, claiming they have been selling devices that infringe its WiFi patent.

CSIRO (the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) stands to gain more than A$1 billion ($834.23million) from its WiFi patent, an IP lawyer told theSydney Morning Herald.

The organization has also reportedly launched similar court cases against Lenovo, Sony and Acer.

CSIRO was awarded a patent in 1996 for the 802.11a standard, which the group said is now used in more than 800 million devices in 19 countries.

The patent revolves around directing Wi-Fi radio waves to signal receiving devices via a dedicated chip.

The CSIRO has already won more than A$250 million in settlements from some of the biggest tech companies in the world, including Intel, Microsoft, Dell and Belkin.

"The widespread usage of the technology [WiFi] means that a few cents per customer / data volume usage could easily add up to a lazy billion or more,” Trevor Choy, an intellectual property lawyer with Choy Lawyers told the SMH.

“The fact that the court case is happening in the US is also good because US courts don't shy away from awarding big damages figures."

CSIRO's commercial executive director, Nigel Poole, told the SMH that the firm would like to have a licensing deal with every company that sells products with WiFi.

But he concedes that “there's a practical limit to that.”

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