CSIRO Wins Wi-Fi Patent Appeal

By Naomi Graychase

September 23, 2008

After an appeal in the US Eastern District of Texas Court, it turns out Buffalo Technology still can't sell you a router in the U.S.

After an appeal in the US Eastern District of Texas Court, it turns out Buffalo Technology still can't sell you a router in the United States.

Buffalo used to be a major player in sales of consumer and small business Wi-Fi equipment in the U.S. That was, until it became the target of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia's national science agency. CSIRO owns patents on wireless LAN technology that date back to the 1990s.  Rather than take on the entire industry, CSIRO decided to take on one company and see how it went. They picked Buffalo. So far, it's worked.

Victory was announced in late 2006 by CSIRO after it initially sued Buffalo for patent infringement. In mid-2007, CSIRO won an injunction to get Buffalo to stop selling its AirStation product line in the U.S.

In a ruling on Friday, the Texas appeals court upheld the district court's summary judgment of infringement.

While the tide seems to be turning in CSIRO's favor here, in Asia, the momentum is swinging Buffalo's way. Buffalo faced a similar issue with CSIRO in a Japanese court room, but won, invalidating CSIRO's WLAN patent there.

At one point, CSIRO estimated that 100 companies worldwide infringe upon its ownership of US Patent 5,487,069, which covers "a wireless LAN, a peer-to-peer wireless LAN, a wireless transceiver and a method of transmitting data, all of which are capable of operating at frequencies in excess of 10 GHz and in multipath transmission environments."

Big industry names like Intel, Apple, and Dell are suing CSIRO hoping to invalidate the patent here in the U.S. to prevent any other company from receiving Buffalo's fate. Buffalo continues to sell many other non-Wi-Fi products, however.

 Naomi Graychase is Managing Editor at Wi-Fi Planet.com.



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