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Patent suit takes aim at Cisco routers and switches

A Florida-based company is suing Cisco Systems for alleged patent infringement, charging the networking giant with stealing its...

A Florida-based company is suing Cisco Systems for alleged patent infringement, charging the networking giant with stealing its routing technology.

ConnecTel claims Cisco is using without compensation a set of technologies that ConnecTel founder Allen Kaplan invented in the 1990s. ConnecTel is seeking unspecified damages and attorney's fees as well as an injunction to stop the alleged infringement.

At the heart of the complaint is an intelligent data routing system that can choose the best data path and transmission method in real time, based on multiple factors including bandwidth, availability, security and the user's priority. Kaplan applied for patents on the technology in 1996.

Kaplan originally developed the technology as a way to streamline the delivery of faith-based inspirational faxes, the complaint said. He and a partner founded ConnecTel to commercialise the intelligent routing system but the company has never made products itself, choosing instead to license the technology to other companies.

ConnecTel introduced its technology to Cisco and offered the company a chance to license it, and Cisco rejected the offer only to later develop product lines that used it, according to the complaint.

According to Daniel Perez, an attourney at Winstead Sechrest & Minick, "A large percentage of Cisco's routers and switches are infringing on one or more of the patents." As an example he cited the Cisco AS5350 Universal Gateway, a wide-area network gateway that can provide data, voice, and fax services on any port at any time. 

Cisco was unable to comment on the ConnecTel suit because it has not yet seen the complaint.

Stephen Lawson writes for IDG News Service

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