Agere sues Proxim for patent infringement

Agere Systems Inc., the former microelectronics unit of Lucent Technologies Inc., on Thursday said it filed suit against Proxim Inc., alleging that the wireless networking company is infringing on three of Agere's wireless local area network (WLAN) patents.

The patents are related to multirate wireless data communications systems, antenna apparatus and tungsten metallization, all used currently in Proxim's WLAN products, Agere said in a statement. Agere is seeking monetary damages and a court injunction to prohibit Proxim from using the patented technology, according to the Allentown, Pennsylvania-based company.

Agere filed the suit after negotiations during the past two months with Proxim failed to bring about an agreement, Agere spokeswoman Vibha Agrawal said.

"Proxim would not agree to provide us compensation for our patents," Agrawal said. "That's really all we are seeking here, is the value for our patents."

Proxim spokeswoman Debbie Abbott would not comment on the specifics of the Agere case. However, she said Proxim believes it has a "very strong case" against vendors it sees infringing on its patents.

In March, Proxim took actions seeking to protect its own WLAN patented technology. The patents provide core transmitter and receiver properties for range, data rate and interference minimization for direct sequence WLAN technology in the 2.4GHz range, according to the company.

Proxim first filed suit against six networking companies that sell WLAN technology, alleging patent infringement. Sunnyvale, California-based Proxim sued 3Com Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Intersil Corp., SMC Networks Inc., Symbol Technologies Inc. and Wayport Inc. Each of the companies sells direct-sequence WLAN products and services based on the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 802.11b wireless communication standard. After filing suit Proxim asked the International Trade Commission (ITC), based in Washington, D.C., to stop the importation of products by eight companies to the U.S. that allegedly infringe on its patented wireless networking technology. They are Acer Inc., Addtron Technology Co. Ltd., Ambicom Inc., Compex Inc., D-Link Systems Inc., Enterasys Networks Inc., Linksys Group Inc. and Melco Inc.

Symbol then in early May denied that its technology infringed on Proxim's patents and filed a counter suit against Proxim, alleging that its WLAN patented technology was infringed upon by Proxim's products. More recently, Proxim ended its lawsuit against Compex and its parent company Powermatic Data Systems Ltd. in May after a royalty-paying license agreement was reached, giving Compex the right to use Proxim's patents for its 802.11b wireless network products.

Agere sells components or complete WLAN systems for re-branding to six of the 13 companies still being sued by Proxim, Agrawal said. She would not identify the companies by name. Agere has intervened in the lawsuits on the behalf of its customers and is defending them, she said. Agere believes Proxim's claims before the ITC are without merit.

The Agere lawsuit against Proxim was filed in the U.S. District Court in Delaware.

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