Nortel drops most of patent suit against ONI

ONI Systems Monday announced that metro optical systems rival Nortel Networks has agreed to dismiss all claims related to four patents purportedly infringed upon by ONI, but is pursuing litigation on a fifth.

Nortel's original suit was filed on March 10, 2000, just prior to ONI's filing for its initial public offering. The four patents dismissed in the suit pertain to SONET technology that Nortel alleged ONI had infringed upon in its dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) systems, an ONI spokesman says.

The fifth patent pertains to a technique for passive passthrough of optical signals in a DWDM system, the spokesman says.

Since the suit was filed, ONI says it has vigorously countered all of Nortel's claims and will continue to do so with the remaining Nortel patent at issue.

"I am gratified, but not surprised that Nortel has seen fit to drop all infringement claims related to four of the five patents. From the outset, ONI contended that this lawsuit was without merit," says ONI Chairman and CEO Hugh Martin, in a statement. "We will continue to defend ONI against the sole remaining patent in the lawsuit and are confident that we will prevail."

"Nortel Networks remains confident in the strength of its case," a Nortel spokesman says. "The action we took was to focus the case and to help bring it to a more efficient conclusion. We believe the patent which remains the subject of this lawsuit continues to reflect the core of our claim and by winning on the remaining patent, Nortel Networks will obtain the same relief as if we had proceeded with all the matters in the original suit."

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