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When Interwave Communications decided to go after two former employees accused of stealing trade secrets and patent infringement in March 1999, the defendant named in the suit, JetCell Inc., was a small Silicon Valley startup with fewer than 50 employees. Now Menlo Park, Calif.-based Interwave, a microcellular network provider for digital wireless communications, will face a more daunting opponent. Silicon Valley behemoth Cisco Systems has acquired JetCell, as well as the lawsuit. Henry Bunsow, lead outside counsel for Interwave, says the addition of Cisco to the suit won’t change his legal strategy but has stretched out the case’s timeline. “These cases are fairly high-stakes cases, whether you are a big company or a small company,” said Bunsow, a partner with Keker & Van Nest. “The fact that it’s Cisco doesn’t change our strategy or our likelihood of prevailing.” The facts of the case remain unchanged, Bunsow said. “We believe [JetCell's] fundamental product is based on Interwave,” Bunsow said. The addition of Cisco has slowed the case. Two U.S. district court judges in San Francisco — Charles Breyer and Charles Legge — have recused themselves since Cisco joined the suit. Neither judge cited specifics for stepping down from the case, but Bunsow speculates that both judges have Cisco stock as part of their personal investment portfolios. The case landed in San Jose, Calif., in Judge James Ware’s courtroom. Earlier this week, Ware assigned a special master who will meet with both sides and make recommendations to the judge on motions to dismiss, a preliminary injunction, cross motions for summary judgment and further case management. Ware set a 30-day timeline for the motions. The case has also had a turnover of attorneys. Keker & Van Nest’s San Francisco office took over Interwave’s case, which was originally being handled by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. G. Hopkins Guy III, of Orrick, Herrington & Sufcliffe, is representing the defense. Guy was unavailable for comment Wednesday. Interwave v. JetCell, C-00 20674, was filed in June 1999 and named former Interwave employees Jan Long and Ian Sayers, who founded JetCell. Bunsow said interoffice e-mails sent between Long and Sayers demonstrate the two began planning the launch of JetCell in the mid-1990s, while still employed by Interwave. JetCell was incorporated in April 1998. Interwave contends that Long and Sayers — who signed confidentiality agreements — lifted product plans, schematics, architectural documents, customer contracts and Interwave’s propriety business plan to start JetCell. Cisco announced plans to acquire JetCell in March 2000 for $200 million in Cisco common stock. Prior to the purchase, Cisco held a minority stake in JetCell. JetCell develops in-building wireless communications solutions for corporate networks. Cisco officials lauded the JetCell acquisition as a way to broaden its wireless voice services over an Internet-based network.

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