Tonnerre Lombard

Archive for October, 2007

Patents threaten 802.11n standard

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

According to an article on, the new 802.11n standard is threatened right after it was released – by patents. This is a rough translation:

Even though pre 802.11n products are already on the market, the coming standard is in danger. While suppliers already offer wireless equipment based on a draft of the 802.11n standard, this next
generation of Wi-Fi technology could eventually fail. The cause? Patents.

The standard that has already been under development for a long time is in danger. The long expected and promising 802.11n could eventually fail to come into existence. This despite the fact that nearly all suppliers of network equipment have already started offering 802.11n products. These Wi-Fi products are based on a first version of the coming standard.

As it turns out now an Australian organisation, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) has patents on 802.11n. The patent involved refer to technology for backward compatibility with the present Wi-Fi-standards 802.11g and 802.11a.

CSIRO refuses however to refrain from legal claims. The latter is a normal condition in the development of a standard by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). The 802.11n working party of the IEEE is now having an emergency meeting.

CSIRO is not willing, despite earlier requests  of the IEEE, to submit a Letter of Assurance in which it  promises not to start legal procedures against parties ratifying the coming standard. Such a declaration is a requisite and for this reason the standards organisation cannot ratify 802.11n now.  Furthermore present suppliers of 802.11n draft equipment would also commit an infringement of the law.

Big crash in the financial market in 2008 due to patents?

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

Some experts are expecting a major financial crash in the world due to a breakdown of three main pillars of the world financial system: consumer debts, mortgages, and patents.

According to an article by Pieter Hintjens (President of FFII), a lot of banks have given out moneys for patent portfolios based on the assumption that there is a value associated with these patents. These values however are not based on any facts but on pure marketing: something that could be done with the patent. Experts have never liked this idea, which is also the reason why we don’t have the often-called-for patent insurance yet: because insurance agencies rejected patents as uninsurable.

Nevertheless, banks tended and still tend to give out their money freely to companies and other entities that have nothing else to offer as collateral than a patent portfolio. However, starting from January 1st, 2008, banks have to report their risks imposed by intangibles due to the new Basel II regulations which come into force. At this point, fear coming up is to be expected, and the crisis of the financial market, which is already fueled by the burst of the housing bubble, is going to rise even further.

The Internet without Net Neutrality

Monday, October 1st, 2007

An illustration of the Internet without net neutralityFredy Künzler has found a nice illustration of why Net Neutrality is such an important aspect. This drawing shows what network access would be like if the marketing departments had the final word.

The search engine providers express their opinions on Censorship

Monday, October 1st, 2007

Questioned about privacy laws and censorship, search engine providers can indeed give out weird messages. This became clear after an inquiry to Google, Microsoft and Yahoo about their search politics relating to China. All of these search engine providers have separate search engines for display and use in China which respect the local legal framework. However, this framework demands both censorship and reports on who searched what. People searching for keywords such as «democracy» are to be turned in by the search engine provider.


Inquired about China, Google hands out a lenghty document typed up personally which explains that business pressure demands Google to operate in China. However, Google would not be allowed in China unless they implement the legal framework. The situation is called unsatisfactory, and a solution is said to be seeked but has to take place on an international, political level.

Also, Google says that the request to turn in people searching for certain keywords is not binding, and thus Google does not implement it.


Yahoo chose not to respond at all to inquiries related to China.


Questioned about China, Microsoft returned a prepared letter endorsing censorship as a perfect tool to keeping undesirable content away from the users. According to Microsoft, one should also look at the positive side of censorship. However, just like Google, Microsoft does not turn in users based on search requests.


It appears that Google is the only company which really has some kind of sense of corporate responsibility on the subject of censorship. It is however a fact that Google still plays with the dragons in this game, and hopefully Google will participate in any effort to clear up this issue in the future. The most unacceptable answer was probably that of Microsoft. Censorship is not acceptable under any circumstances, especially since it is not appropriate for any enterprise to decide on what a customer is willing to look at or not, for whatever reasons.