Australian Group Fights Heavyweights Over WLAN Patents

Microsoft, HP, Apple and others are teaming up to overturn an Australian research group's patents that cover commonly used WLAN technology.

A government research agency in Australia said Wednesday it holds patents that make wireless LANs possible and will fight a court action initiated by Microsoft and other high-visibility technology companies to overturn the patent.

Dr. Geoff Garrett, CEO of Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), said that the group received a patent in 1996 for technology that he claimed in a statement is "essential for implementing wireless local area networks that comply with several IEEE standards, and is now a standard feature on most notebook computers and many other devices."

A group of U.S. companies, including Microsoft, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Apple and Netgear, has launched legal action to overturn the patent, an action that Garrett said CSIRO will fight. He said that the group has offered licensing terms to vendors for the technology.

"As part of our business we create high quality intellectual property, and we are prepared to defend it," Garrett said. "We actively encourage the utilization of the results of research in industry and communities, both nationally and globally, and any royalty income will be reinvested in further research."

The court action by the technology vendors was launched in California, according to Australian press reports, and seeks to overturn the patent. CSIRO is a government agency with the mission of developing technology that will benefit Australian businesses.

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