Australian scientists win European Inventor Award 2012

· European Patent Office honours outstanding inventors with European Inventor Award in Copenhagen

· Australian prize winners Dr. John O’ Sullivan, Dr. Terence Percival, Graham Daniels, Diethelm Ostry and John Deane paved the way for today’s Wi-Fi technology

· EPO President Benoît Battistelli: “The work completed by Dr. O’Sullivan and his team perfectly demonstrates how a publicly funded Research Centre can use patent protection and licensing revenue to finance further innovation.”

Nominees for the European Inventor Award 2012: Dr. Terence Percival and Dr. John O’ Sullivan. Photo credits: European Patent Organisation 2012.

Copenhagen, 14th June 2012 – The European Patent Office (EPO) today honoured Dr. John O’ Sullivan, Dr. Terence Percival, Graham Daniels, Diethelm Ostry and John Deane from Australia with the European Inventor Award (EIA) in the “Non-European Countries” category for developing a very powerful solution for wireless networks, which now has become a gold standard in Wi-Fi technology. The team of scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Canberra is one of five laureates receiving Europe’s highest distinction for international inventors awarded annually by the EPO. The EIA is presented in five categories: “Industry”, “Research”, “Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)”, “Non-European countries”, and “Lifetime achievement”.

The powerful wireless networking technology (Wi-Fi) developed by Dr. John O’ Sullivan, Graham Daniels, Dr. Terence Percival, Diethelm Ostry and John Deane has significantly contributed to today’s mobile communications. The technology created by the team increased the speed and robustness of wireless LAN with a comparable level of power to the cabled solutions of the time. Their technology is used today by almost all wireless LAN standards.

The European patent EP 0599632 was applied for already in 1993 and has been successfully commercialised since then, following a well-elaborated licensing strategy. The license fees contribute to the financing of other projects run by research teams at CSIRO. According to market experts, the number of WLAN Chips could reach 2 billion by 2015 and the prospects for further growth are excellent.

“The work completed by Dr. O’Sullivan and his team perfectly demonstrates how a publicly funded Research Centre can use patent protection and licensing revenue to finance further innovation,” said EPO President Benoît Battistelli at the award ceremony. “Few innovations have had such a great impact on our daily life as Wi-Fi. The EPO would like to congratulate the researchers from CSIRO for making fast wireless communication possible.”

The Danish Crown Prince and Princess, around 350 economic and political decision makers, researchers, scientists and intellectual property specialists attended the award ceremony at the Royal Danish Playhouse in Copenhagen.

Laureates in other categories

In the “Lifetime achievement” category, the award went to Prof. Josef Bille from the University of Heidelberg in Germany, who has filed almost 100 patents in the field of ophthalmology and has paved the way in the field of laser eye corrections. Prof. Bille’s groundbreaking invention of wavefront technology for laser eye surgery enables the mapping of aberrations in the iris and thus helps correct short-sightedness, long-sightedness, and astigmatism for millions of people worldwide.

In the “Industry” category, the EPO award was presented to the Danish team Jan Tøpholm, Søren Westermann and Svend Vitting Andersen of Widex for developing a computer-aided method to manufacture individually-fitted, comfortable hearing-aid devices. The unique stereo-lithographic manufacturing method known as CAMISHA (Computer-Aided Manufacturing of Individual Shells for Hearing Aids) has revolutionised hearing aids since its introduction. The majority of all hearing aid devices worldwide now use this technology.

The award in the “Research” category went to Dr. Gilles Gosselin and Prof. Jean-Louis Imbach at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Dr. Marti L. Bryant who developed an effective drug for the treatment of hepatitis B that has now been successfully commercialised. One hundred times more infectious than HIV, hepatitis B is a particularly persistent disease that chronically affects 350 million people worldwide.

Dr. Manfred Stefener (Germany), founder of Smart Fuel Cell AG (SFC), Oliver Freitag and Dr. Jens Müller received the award in the “SMEs” category for the development of the first fuel cell for portable use, the so-called direct methanol fuel cell or DMFC. Today, these fuel cells are used in a vast array of applications, including traffic management, security and surveillance systems as well as to power isolated environmental data stations. They are also recognised for their environmental friendliness.

About the European Inventor Award (EIA)

Launched in 2006, the European Inventor Award is presented annually by the EPO, in co-operation with the European Commission, the country which holds the EU Council Presidency at the time of the award ceremony, which this year is Denmark, and the respective national Patent Office, this year the Danish Patent and Trademark Office. The award honours inventive individuals and teams whose pioneering work provides answers to the challenges of our age and thereby contributes to progress and prosperity.

Inventors of any nationality in any technological field who have been granted at least one valid European patent for their invention are eligible for consideration, with nominations submitted by the public and patent specialists from all over the world. An international jury comprised of leading personalities from industry, science, politics and media selects three finalists from hundreds of applicants, from which one winner is chosen. The criteria for evaluation include the invention’s overall benefit to society, the economic success of the invention in terms of job creation and development as well as its impact on technology.

About the European Patent Office (EPO)

With almost 7,000 employees, the European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the largest European institutions. Its headquarters are in Munich and it has offices in Berlin, Brussels, The Hague and Vienna. The EPO was founded with the aim of strengthening co-operation between the European states in the field of invention protection. Through the EPO’s centralised patent granting procedure, inventors are able to obtain patent protection in the 38 member states of the European Patent Organisation. The EPO is recognised by its users for delivering high quality patents for an economic region comprising some 600 million inhabitants. It is the world’s leading authority in patent information and patent searching. In 2011, the EPO received a record number of 244,000 patent filings and granted 62,115 European patents.

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