BIOGRAPHY - PETER S. VOGEL
Born: Sydney, Australia, 1954
If I had been born in the 21st century, my fascination with technology would be unremarkable. But when Australia gave up its pounds, shillings and pence in 1966, at the age of 12, I had already built my own computer, fax machine and mobile phone. Sadly, far from making me uber-cool, 'nerd' was not a 'thing' in those days, and my obsession with technology led to a solitary childhood. The upside was that I developed the ability to create something seemingly impossible starting with very little. Click here for some examples of my diverse achievements.
In 1988 I left my position as Research Director of Fairlight Instruments, where I headed a team of thirty engineers, to found Right Hemisphere. This move was made to broaden my horizons from the narrow field of sound and vision processing to the wider realm of computers and communications. In particular, I wanted to realise a number of new ideas which were outside Fairlight's scope.
I continued developing an extensive IP portfolio and gained valuable experience with protection of intellectual property - I obtained my first patent (for a telephone trunk barring device) at the age of 16.
Around the turn of the century, I started concentrated on developing products directed at making television viewing more enjoyable, for example, by providing an on-screen program guide (EPG). One of my more interesting inventions was a device which reliably removed commercials from TV recordings, which decades later brought me into conflict with television broadcasters. In 2003, I founded IceTV, which provided Australia's first subscription based electronic program guide for television, offering a TiVo-like service including the use of mobile phones and web browsers to remotely schedule digital video recorders to record.
In 2006 IceTV was sued by the Nine Network who alleged that IceTV’s EPG breached their copyright. IceTV fought the case all the way to the High Court of Australia, which in 2009 ruled in IceTV’s favour. The decision has been described in legal circles as a significant landmark in Australian copyright law. My expertise in this field saw me give evidence as an expert witness in a patent dispute in the UK high court in 2014.
In 2009, I decided to produce a "limited edition" remake of the Fairlight CMI to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the first CMIs sold. The CMI-30A started shipping in 2011 and my company Peter Vogel Instruments (PVI) started developing lower cost keyboard instruments. At that time, the Fairlight trademark was owned by Fairlight.au, a company which used the name for its digital audio workstations. PVI contracted Fairlight.au to develop the software for the CMI-30A and licensed the Fairlight trademark from them. In 2012, Fairlight.au refused to complete the software or supply parts that were essential for the CMI-30A. Fairlight.au then sued Peter Vogel Instruments in the Federal Court of Australia, claiming that PVI had infringed Fairlight.au's trademark because the licence only allowed the trademark to be used for the CMI-30A hardware, but PVI also used it for an iOS app. Peter Vogel Instruments cross-claimed against Fairlight.au for breach of contract and copyright infringement.
The dispute was finalised on appeal to the Federal Court of Australia in 2016 and Fairlight.au was ordered to pay PVI damages. As at November 2019 the amount of those damages is subject to appeal.
While defending the lawsuits brought against my companies by Nine Networks and Fairlight.au, I studied law part-time and was admitted to all Australian courts as a solicitor in 2019, and am now practising as a technology lawyer.
Now that the Fairlight litigation has been concluded, I am again developing new musical instruments. I am also developing new technologies to make independent living safer and more enjoyable for the elderly, as Creative Technologist and shareholder of Vitalcare Pty Ltd.
In my spare time, I'm also pursuing my long standing passion for social and environmental causes, which dates back to the Franklin River blockade in 1983. In the 1970s to 1980s I was involved in campaigns which played a significant role in the eventual banning of cigarette advertising in Australia, notably BUGAUP. I also helped Rev. Ted Noffs establish "Life Education", which is now Australia's largest, independent health and drug education provider for school children.
I live with my wife Lorraine and the two youngest of my five daughters at Faulconbridge, in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia, in this very unusual limestone house which I spent 4 years building.