In December, 1998, Greg Retkowski and I published the Arlan Wireless Howto. The wireless router we started building in March of that year, and later documented so extensively, is now considered by CISCO’s lawyers to be prior art to the Linux based wireless access point, in the court case Optimum Path vs Cisco/Belkin/SMC/Netgear.
I was deposed in August, 2010 to talk about it.
Optimum Path is now suing basically everybody making an embedded Linux based wireless router for infringing on patent #7035281, filed September 13, 2000. This patent covers many features of the WRT-54G series (first shipped in Dec, 2002), and related products, from multiple other manufacturers, features that were built into the Linux mainline code, long before the patent was filed. Optimum Path now also holds a second patent – filed in 2005 – granted in July 2010 – which covers not only the ground covered by the first patent but includes content filtering (!?). I’m told this latter patent is not currently the subject of litigation, but it bothers me as much as the first – we were doing content filtering in Linux in 1999, also… Everybody was doing it.
Linux did routing almost from its inception. The firewalling code and the ip masquerading code were in version 2.0, maybe earlier than that. The first “Linux wireless routers” came from the authors of the wavelan and arlan drivers. The first “embedded Linux router” came from the Linux Router Project – and the truly heavy lifting came from the math guys that came up with the signal processing software/hardware that ran on a small board that could send and receive the data signals over the air, reliably.
But… as best as I can tell, from looking back on the emails, mailing list postings, and archive.org, the first “embedded Linux Wireless Router” came from the minds of Greg Retkowski, myself, and Everett Basham.
I’m bemused. My diary – and blog – and our internal emails over that period – jokes, misspellings, foul language, personal conflicts and all – are now in the public record!!?? Over a patent suit?
Who invented the embedded Linux based wireless router?