Motorola has taken two California modem companies to court , charging them with infringing on several of its modem patents, Motorola said in a statement.
The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court in Boston, charges AltoCom and PCTel with violating a number of Motorola patents in products used to make so-called "software modems," according to the statement.
Software modems allow PC makers to include modem capabilities in their products without having use separate modem chips, drawing instead on the power of a computer's microprocessor. The design takes up less space and can be less costly than using a standard modem, and is popular in handheld and desktop PCs.
The patents in question relate to the International Telecommunications Union's V.34 and V.90 analog modem standards, as well as other patents specific to software modems, Motorola said. After a lengthy period of negotiations, AltoCom and PCTel declined terms of a licensing agreement offered by Motorola, prompting it to sue, the statement said.
A Motorola spokesman declined to comment further.
AltoCom and PCITel both denied the charges, but also declined to comment in detail.
"Since we haven't been served notice of the suit yet, I don't know what's in it and I can't comment," said Zarko Draganic, president and CEO of Altocom, in Mountain View, California.
AltoCom sells its modem products primarily to handheld computer makers, and counts among its customers Philips Consumer Electronics Co., which uses AltoCom's technology in its Velo handheld PC, Draganic said.
Milpitas, California-based PCTel sells modem chip sets to PC manufacturers including Fujitsu and Acer America Inc., a company spokesman said. PCTel was in the process of negotiating a cross-licensing deal with Motorola before it decided to sue, he said.
PCTel's lawyers had only just received the complaint and are still reviewing the allegations, the spokesman said.
Earlier this year Motorola settled a protracted patent lawsuit with 3Com Corp. over another V.34-related patent, after the companies agreed to a cross-licensing deal.