BellSouth, Comverse Settle Patent Spat

BellSouth will license telecom technology covered under two
patents to Comverse , the companies announced today.

The deal settles a legal spat that has dragged on for more than a year. It also highlights an expanding source of revenue for the Baby Bell.

“BellSouth’s intellectual property group has negotiated more than 100
licenses since it was formed in 1998, and now generates tens of millions of
dollars in annual revenue,” Brent Fowler, a BellSouth spokesman, told
internetnews.com.

Last year, the Atlanta-based carrier was awarded 188 patents, more than
double its 2003 tally. The overall portfolio has grown from 50 patents in
1998 to more than 500.

The intellectual property at the center of the dispute between BellSouth and
Comverse involved call routing and voicemail features. Financial terms of
the license agreement were not disclosed.

It’s not the first time BellSouth has ended a patent suit by hammering out a
license agreement. Previously, it struck a deals with Call Sciences and
Glenayre Technologies .

BellSouth now has no pending patent infringement lawsuits outstanding.

“As for licensing, we are in active talks with companies over the licensing
of our patents,” Fowler said. “Our pending licensing discussions involve the
patents asserted against Comverse as well as other patents.”

In other BellSouth news, the company said yesterday that it has chosen
Tellabs and JDS Uniphase to round
out its list of technology suppliers for its next-generation broadband
network deployment. The value of the contracts was not disclosed.

Other vendors previously announced for the upgrade, which includes
fiber-optic cable and optical components, include Alcatel
and Redback Networks.

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