SUNNYVALE, Calif. -- In what promises to become a major legal battle, Proxim Inc. today (March 8) launched a patent enforcement campaign aimed at protecting its direct sequence wireless networking intellectual property, which the company claims is a key element of the 2.4-GHz IEEE 802.11b standard.
Proxim announced U.S. lawsuits against six companies selling wireless local area networking (WLAN) products, which use direct sequence technology and services based on the IEEE 802.11b standard. Proxim said suits have been filed in Boston and Delaware federal courts against 3Com, Cisco, Intersil, SMC, Symbol, and Wayport.
According to Proxim, other legal actions "may follow" and it is now trying to negotiate new licenses for its patents.
"Proxim's patents provide the basis for achieving optimum range, data rate and bandwidth using direct sequence WLAN products and services," stated Kevin Negus, vice president of business development at Proxim . "Since higher data rates have been the most significant differentiating factor of IEEE 802.11b products, many WLAN vendors have been successful largely due to the use of our intellectual property," he added.
The Sunnyvale company said it offering licensing agreements to companies that sell direct sequence WLAN products and services. Proxim said the royalty rate now being offered is "more generous for companies that enter into licenses within a limited time period after notification."
Immediate responses to the patent suits were not available from the six plaintiffs.
With companies gearing up product offering based on the higher-speed IEEE 802.11b standard, the threat of a legal fight could have a significant impact on the wireless networking format, which supports 11-megabit-per-second speeds. The market for wireless LANs is expected to grow from $771 million in 1999 to $2.2 billion in 2004, a 25% compound annual growth rate, according to a recent forecast from Cahners In-Stat Group in Scottsda le, Ariz.