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Compex Accepts Proxim's 802.11b Licensing Deal

Score one for wireless broadband company Proxim Inc. as it continues its mission to bring companies -- selling 802.11b wireless networking products that it says closely resemble its own work -- to the table.

Compex, which is one company among dozens of companies threatened with legal action by Proxim, has agreed to pay royalties to the 18-year-old company to sell products that Proxim said infringed on its direct sequence wireless local area networking (WLAN) patents.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Proxim, which has patented implementation techniques used in wireless products that comply with the IEEE 802.11b standard, has asked the International Trade Commission (ITC) to drop Anaheim, Calif.-based Compex Inc. and its parent company Powermatic from an ongoing action it has taken against 13 other companies.

A spokesperson for Proxim said that all companies that export 802.11b wireless products -- about 100 -- run the risk of infringing on Proxim's patents. She was unable to say how many companies had been notified, but said the reasons for notification were clear.

"Any company that uses a technique that infringes on Proxim's patents, including optimum range, data rate and bandwidth occupancy patents would be notified," she said.

In a prepared statement, Kevin Negus, vice president of business development at Proxim, said "We hope that other companies follow Compex's lead and sign up for our early licensee program.

This will allow these companies to avoid litigation and continue selling 802.11b direct sequence WLAN products or services, while providing Proxim with fair compensation."

As a reward for signing up with Proxim, Compex will receive "attractive licensing terms and avoid the expense associated with litigation." Those terms were not released today and Compex could not be reached for comment by press time.

In early March 2001, Proxim initiated an action with the ITC to stop the importation of products that infringed on its wireless networking technology. The eight companies identified in the action included Acer, Addtron, Ambicom, Compex, D-Link, Enterasys, Linksys and Melco.

At the time, Proxim announced a licensing program and filed complaints in the federal district courts in Boston and Delaware for damages and injunctive relief. The companies named in the action are 3COM, Cisco, Intersil, SMC Networks, Symbol and Wayport.

On May 7, InternetNews.com reported that Proxim introduced a new suite of 802.11a products under a Harmony label. That initiative is an indication that the company has stepped-up its efforts to support and protect its wireless products outside of the HomeRF arena and to mine B2B companies looking for higher bandwidth, wireless support.

At the time Lynn Krust, director of commercial networks business unit for Proxim, explained "Most places in the world use a mix of networking -- usually a company uses a mix of two or three wireless standards. We're a multi-standards company. We're not just focused on HomeRF."

In early afternoon going, Proxim shares were trading at $17.77, up 52 cents from yesterday's close at $17.25.



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