Rockwell International has admitted that its business may be damaged as a result of legal action against it by a Californian inventor who alleges the company misappropriated trade secrets from him two years ago. Brent Townshend, a part-time teacher and inventor at Stanford University, sued Rockwell's Semiconductor Systems Division last month for allegedly misusing secrets that he eventually licensed to Rockwell's rival, US Robotics. At the time, Rockwell dismissed the suit as "frivolous" and "baseless", insisting that its technology was fundamentally different from US Robotics' (now 3Com). But in a court filing last week in response to Townshend's allegations, the company said it faces "substantial and irreparable injury" as a result of the charges. Rockwell has also asked the court to make Townshend's allegations more specific about what secrets Rockwell has misappropriated and has requested a hearing next month. Rockwell UK declined to comment. In related news, Rockwell announced a new technology last week that can be priced, sold and installed as a K56flex modem, but actually operates up to 20 times faster. The Consumer Digital Subscriber Line (CDSL) is capable of 1Mbps browsing over standard telephone lines. According to Rockwell, the technology represents "the next logical step after 56K modems". Comment: Rockwell's enthusiasm for the CDSL technology is understandable. However, no one should forget the electric magic promised by Nortel - 1Mbps access through your domestic electricity supply, which could do away with the need for modems completely.
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