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Proxim sues 3Com, Cisco, others

Wireless networking company Proxim sues its two biggest rivals and four other competitors, accusing them of infringing on three of its wireless patents.

    Wireless networking company Proxim has sued rivals Cisco Systems, 3Com and four other competitors, accusing them of infringing on three of its wireless patents.

    Proxim is claiming the companies are using its patented technology in their wireless networking kits, technology that lets people wirelessly link their desktop computers and laptops and share a Net connection.

    Others named in Thursday's two lawsuits are chipmaker Intersil, network equipment makers Symbol Technologies and SMC Networks, and service provider Wayport, which offers wireless Net access in hotels, airports and other public places.

    Proxim is seeking a court injunction preventing the companies from using the patents and monetary damages unless the companies agree to license Proxim's patents, according to two separate complaints filed in District Courts in Massachusetts and Delaware.

    Proxim, which competes against Cisco, 3Com, Intel and others, is an early leader in the emerging wireless market for homes and businesses. The corporate market for wireless networking kits alone is expected to grow from $1.3 billion in 2000 to about $3 billion in 2003, according to analyst firm Cahners In-Stat Group.

    Proxim executives say they expect to file further lawsuits against other networking companies that use wireless standards 802.11B and 802.11DS in their products. The standards were created by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

    Proxim is claiming that it owns three patents that the companies use in building products that use the standards, said Kevin Negus, Proxim's vice president of business development.

    Executives from the companies that are being sued could not be reached for immediate comment.

    Other companies that use the 802.11B standard in its products for homes and businesses include Lucent Technologies, Nortel Networks' spinoff NetGear, Sony, Linksys, Apple Computer and Dell Computer.

    Negus said one company has agreed to Proxim's licensing plan, but declined to name the company.

    Proxim executives also said the lawsuits have nothing to do with Proxim's support for a separate wireless standard for the home.

    Proxim, which sells 802.11B products for businesses, touts a separate wireless standard for the home called HomeRF.

    Proxim's patents are based on two standards. The 802.11B standard, also known as Wi-Fi, has become the standard used by corporations. The other standard, called 802.11DS, is a standard that pre-dates 802.11B and runs slower.

    "This is in no way intended to be derogatory to 802.11B," Negus said. "Our intellectual property is valuable and that's why we filed these actions."

    Negus declined to state how much Proxim expects to reap from other companies' licensing its patents.