WiFi vendor Buffalo Technology told its customers that it has been enjoined as of Oct. 1 from selling 802.11a and g equipment in the U.S. as a result of patent litigation brought on by Australian technology research agency CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization). CSIRO holds a broad patent for WLAN technology.
The CSIRO was granted its patent (#5487069) more than 10 years ago but turned to sue Buffalo Technology for patent infringement in 2005. In June, a Texas court issued the injunction against Buffalo after it lost the patent lawsuit last November. Buffalo is appealing.
All WiFi players are fighting CSIRO's patent claims. CSIRO's lawsuits are against the entire wireless LAN industry and could affect the supply of wireless LAN products by any manufacturer, not just Buffalo. According to Buffalo's web site: "The entire industry is resisting CSIRO's attempts to enjoin the sale of wireless LAN products. Recently, Microsoft, 3COM Corporation, SMC Networks, Accton Technology Corporation, Intel, Atheros Communications, Belkin International, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel Networks, Nvidia Corporation, Oracle Corporation, SAP AG, Yahoo, Nokia, and the Consumer Electronics Association filed briefs in support of Buffalo's position that injunctive relief is inappropriate in this case."
Buffalo can sell existing inventories and has permission to replace products under warranty. Certainly the WiFi industry wants to fight this to avoid adding costs to WiFi equipment. One of the reasons WiFi has proliferated is because of how cheap equipment is.
When it comes to 802.11n, the CSIRO recently said it won't give the IEEE its assurance that it will refrain from suing companies that release next-generation WiFi equipment based on the draft of that standard.