The battle to establish high speed 56Kbps modem standards has hotted up once again with the filing of a lawsuit by consulting professor to Stanford University, Brent Towshend, against Rockwell Semiconductor Systems Inc, a division of electronics company Rockwell International Corp. The lawsuit, filed in San Mateo, California, alleges that Rockwell’s K56Flex protocol uses proprietary information belonging to Towshend, for which he has filed patent applications. Rockwell’s partner Lucent Technologies Inc, which co-developed the K56Flex protocol, decided not to pay Towshend a license fee last month, and claimed it already held patents issued that pre-dated Towshend’s application (CI No 3,240). But two weeks later, it agreed to pay Towshend the requested license fees, which are also paid by 3Com Corp for its competing x2 56Kbps protocol, at around $1.25 for each modem, and $9 for each head-end switch port. Rockwell claims that the lawsuit is going to hold back the establishment of the proposed International Telecommunication Union standard, due to be finalized at the next ITU meeting early next year. Both Lucent and 3Com have said they will license any of their technology that becomes part of the eventual standard. The latest development could leave Rockwell isolated if Lucent and 3Com go forward and negotiate a full standard together.
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