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Cisco Systems Inc., of San Jose, Calif., scored a major coup recently by selling more than $1 billion worth of telecommunication equipment to SBC Communications Inc., of San Antonio. The U.S. market had previously been dominated by French telecommunications group Alcatel S.A., via its U.S. subsidiary, Alcatel U.S.A. Now, Alcatel is waging an intellectual property war against Cisco on three fronts. Alcatel USA, of Plano, Texas, filed infringement suits in early June in California and Texas federal court. In the Netherlands, the company filed a parallel case in the Regional Court in The Hague. In the Texas case, Alcatel is charging Cisco with copyright violations, trade secret theft and infringement of the ’959 patent for computer network router technology. Alcatel V. Cisco, No. 4: 00CV199. Many of the charges stem from Cisco’s August 1999 acquisition of a smaller router manufacturer, Monterey Networks Inc., of Richardson, Texas. Monterey, founded in 1997, hired more than 30 managers, engineers and designers from Alcatel, and developed a router product Alcatel claims is infringing on its own patented technology. DIFFERENT TACTICS In California, Alcatel has taken a slightly different tack. In this case, the company is charging Cisco with infringing four other patents. These patents — ’052, ’057, ’037, and ’389 — are for technologies used for switching and controlling the movement of data in a network. This particular case contains no allegations of trade secret theft. The Dutch case also involves the ’052 patent cited in California. Cisco officials declined to comment on the suits, other than to state that “Alcatel has chosen a path that is designed to slow down progress in the market. We will defend ourselves vigorously and also are prepared to assert Cisco’s intellectual property rights and technology leadership.” Alcatel is represented by New York’s Proskauer Rose and Kenyon & Kenyon, and by John J. Kendrick, a Dallas sole practitioner. Cisco general counsel David Scheinman was unavailable for comment on the litigation or outside counsel. But Cisco is represented in other patent litigation by the Menlo Park, Calif., office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges.

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