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HP bails on massive Wi-Fi patent claim

Oz boffins pursue 12 others

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Hewlett-Packard has cashed out of a four-year-old Wi-Fi patent lawsuit from Australia's national science agency that's targeted a who's-who list of big tech vendors with wireless products.

Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) is seeking billions of dollars in royalties from the tech industry over its claimed essential patent for 802.11a and 802.11g Wi-Fi products, the adopted standard in most modern day laptops and LAN devices.

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that HP's agreed to a confidential settlement with CSIRO, untangling itself from Texas court litigation still pending against Intel, Dell, Toshiba, Asus, Netgear, D-Link, Belkin, SMC, Accton, 3-Com, Buffalo Technologies, Microsoft and Nintendo.

We dare say HP's decision after all this time may charge CSIRO's confidence in pursuing its royalty collection lawsuits - except the agency already made a jacket for that purpose.

In 2005, the Australian agency sued 14 firms, claiming a key patent granted to it in 1996 entitles CSIRO to royalties from any company using the 802.11 wireless standard.

The opposition has argued CSIRO's patent is invalid because of the existence of prior art that made the patent claim "obvious" at time it was filed.

CSIRO was briefly granted a US import ban on Buffalo's allegedly infringing 802.11a and 802.11g kit in 2007, but the decision was overturned on appeal. The Texas court allowed Buffalo to once again sell the products in the US while the patent issue is resolved.

A copy of CSIRO's Wi-Fi patent is viewable here. ®

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