When Lucent Technologies sued Cisco Systems last month for infringing on eight of its technology patents, Cisco offered a quiet response denying the suit's validity. On Monday, however, the data networking giant sounded a battle cry as it not only denied Lucent's original suit, but also announced it was countersuing Lucent for patent infringement on six of those original patents, in addition to five other technology patents.
Cisco is suing for damages and respite from the suit. According to a Cisco spokeswoman, the technology in both suits involves Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) and local area network switching.
According to Cisco, the Lucent suit could put a drag on industry momentum. "We are concerned about the damage this action could have on the industry as a whole," said Kevin Kennedy, senior vice president of service provider business at Cisco, in a prepared statement. "We hope Lucent will strongly reconsider its position, given the effect it will have on its new peers in the data industry... This is especially true of the smaller companies who don't have the financial strength or patent portfolio to challenge Lucent."
Lucent said it will continue to pursue its lawsuit. "Everyone knows the creation of intellectual property is a big deal in this industry," said a spokesman. "It's not an issue we take lightly." The spokesman said Lucent lawyers had not reviewed the additional five patents Cisco claimed were copied.
Despite the technology tug-of-war, the question remains: In the fast-paced world of networking, does either company have the time for a drawn-out legal dispute? "We've been in talks with Cisco for the past 18 months... We need an agreement that allows us to make a good return on our investment," the spokesman said.
Lucent, spends approximately $3bn (£1.84bn) per year on research and development and owns 25,000 patents for its technologies.