Wi-fi vendors in patent ruckus

Lawsuits fly in competitive wireless space

Ruckus Wireless has sued Netgear, alleging the networking vendor infringed its patents on technology for improving wi-fi performance and reliability.

Netgear has used Ruckus technology in two products, one of which is still shipping, under a 2005 licensing agreement, according to Ruckus President and CEO Selina Lo. But it used the company's intellectual property in the RangeMax WPN 824v3 wireless router without asking Ruckus's permission or paying royalties, she says. Netgear also is not meeting Ruckus's quality standards for the technology, Lo says.

Ruckus has a system for using antenna arrays to form and direct wi-fi signals over the best path at any given time. According to Ruckus, the technology is unique in the industry and the company has more than 70 patents granted or pending worldwide. Wi-fi, a highly competitive field, has been a particularly litigious area of high-tech.

Ruckus alleges Netgear is infringing US patents 7,193,562, granted March 2007, and 7,385,912, granted on April 15. It filed suit in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, Lo says. In addition to Netgear, Ruckus is also suing Rayspan, which worked with Netgear on the WPN 824v3 router, charging contributory infringement. The company is seeking a permanent injunction to bar the companies from making or selling the product. It also wants damages and reasonable royalties from the sale of the router and possibly other infringing products, and statutory damages.

"We feel they are damaging something we've built for a long time," Lo says, adding that it took the founders of Ruckus three and a half years to develop the underlying technology into a product. Ruckus, based in Sunnyvale, California, was founded in 2004.

Netgear is a large vendor of networking gear designed primarily for consumers and small and medium-sized businesses. Netgear officials were not immediately available for comment.

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Tags technologyWi-FinetgearRuckus

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