A tiny manufacturer of wireless LANs has filed federal lawsuits against some of the network industry giants, charging them with infringing on key wireless patents.
US-based Proxim, with fiscal 2000 revenue of $US107 million, filed the lawsuits on March 8 in the Federal District Courts of Massachusetts and Delaware. The suits, seeking damages and an injunction, are against 3Com, Cisco Systems, Intersil, SMC Networks, Symbol Technologies and Wayport. Most are LAN vendors, though Wayport offers wireless LAN access services in places like airports and Intersil creates components and reference designs for wireless LANs.
In addition to the lawsuits, Proxim has asked for an injunction from the International Trade Commission, targeting several foreign vendors selling their products in the US market.
In a carrot-and-stick approach, Proxim is offering these and other wireless LAN vendors a licensing deal, which will allow companies to use the techniques protected by the Proxim patents.
Proxim patents deal with certain techniques in what is called direct sequence wireless networking. In direct sequence, a signal is spread over a broad frequency range, which lets the radio technology support a large number of transmissions over a given range of frequencies. A different approach to this spread spectrum modulation is frequency hopping, which transmits short bursts of information over specific frequencies to minimise interference.