Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Patent Wars Go Wireless: Canadian broadband wireless technology provider Wi-LAN is suing industry giant Cisco Systems for patent infringement, Wi-LAN officials announced Thursday. And if the lawsuit goes well, the company may keep on suing.

All of the patents in question relate to OFDM (orthogonal frequency division multiplexing), the modulation technique that enables high-speed data transfers for both the 802.11g and 802.11a IEEE WLAN (wireless LAN) standards.

Wi-LAN comes at Cisco hot off a win in a similar patent dispute with Toronto-based Redline Communications. Last month in an if-you-don't-want-to-fight-'em-join-'em move, Redline signed a royalty agreement with Wi-LAN, settling the 2-year-old case.

Given the wide reach of OFDM, it's fair to question the impact of the suit on the industry. But don't look for it to cripple development efforts. OFDM is already out there. No one's going to call it back. Certainly not Wi-LAN. It's using the courts to help it enlist partners who haven't exactly rushed to its doors to license the company's technology.

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