Lucent has slapped a lawsuit on Cisco claiming it has infringed eight networking technology patents.
The patents cover technology used in routers, frame relay equipment and ATM tools and particularly technologies that help control congestion and deter errors in data networks.
While such lawsuits aren't uncommon among technology vendors, the move comes as competition between the two companies intensifies. Lucent is broadening its line of data networking products in order to help telephone companies manage the vast streams of data, voice and increasingly video traffic traversing the networks, while Cisco is going after the same business with its own line of routing and switching gear.
Lucent said it is protecting the intellectual property of Bell Labs, its research and development arm. Some of the technology is licensed to other data networking vendors.
It said it had "no option" other than to sue because its 18-month long negotiations with Cisco had failed to find a resolution.
A Cisco spokesperson said the company was "disappointed" by the action but declined to comment further, claiming the firm had yet to see the lawsuit.
Michael Greene, president of intellectual property at Lucent, said: "We license our patents to many companies in the industry, and our goal is to receive fair value for Bell Labs' discoveries and innovations - innovations that are the result of more than #1.8 billion in annual investment. We're looking to protect our intellectual property with the appropriate agreements and for proper compensation."
The company is seeking damages and an injunction.
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