A federal judge in Florida will allow a $1.3bn lawsuit to proceed against Cisco Systems for fraud, negligent misrepresentation and other violations.
Judge James King, of the US District Court, denied Cisco's motion to dismiss a complaint filed by hosted telecoms and VoIP provider Vox2Vox, which alleges that Cisco enticed it to help build a software platform that the networking equipment maker later dropped.
"The close temporal proximity of Cisco's words to Cisco's contrary deeds sufficiently allege a cause of action for fraudulent behaviour," said the judge.
Vox2Vox maintains that it provided infrastructure support beginning in 2000 for Cisco's uOne messaging system that combines email, voicemail and fax messages in one common mailbox.
The company also claims that Cisco's representations of technical support for the unified messaging platform, and its offer of specialised sales support to wholesale clients, "enticed" Vox2Vox to commit resources to the venture, to the point that it became a member of Cisco's Powered Network Program.
Vox2Vox further claims that Cisco gave assurances that it would continue to support uOne.
The Vox2Vox service was to have been launched in May 2001, but in a letter dated 1 May 2001 Cisco announced its decision to quit the unified messaging product business.
Specifically, Vox2Vox claims that Cisco "misrepresented its intentions, as demonstrated by the incredibly short time between the drop from Cisco's 100 per cent to zero per cent confidence".
But Cisco spokesman Steve Langdon dismissed the service provider's accusations. "The suit is without merit and the amount preposterous. We are very comfortable with the facts," he said.
Ferrell Schultz Carter Zumpano & Fertel, the law firm hired by Vox2Vox, said that the suit would go to trial unless a settlement is reached.
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