Starent Settles UTStarcom Legal Disputes for $3.5M

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In the wake of its US$2.9 billion acquisition deal on Tuesday with Cisco Systems, Starent Networks has agreed to settle all its legal disputes with UTStarcom and pay the company $3.5 million.

UTStarcom and Starent both make mobile network equipment. UTStarcom, based in Alameda, California, has accused Starent of violating its patents on multiple technologies. Through the settlement, Starent will receive a perpetual royalty-free license to UTStarcom's patents, the companies said Thursday.

UTStarcom acquired most of the CommWorks business unit of 3Com in 2003.

In 2005, UTStarcom sued Starent in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California for allegedly infringing its patent on prepaid billing technology for packet data serving nodes, which link mobile networks to the Internet. In 2007, it sued Starent in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. It said several key employees from the CommWorks business unit had gone to work for Starent and used confidential and proprietary information to build competing products that violated UTStarcom patents. Among them was Gennady Sirota, who still serves as vice president of product management at Starent, according to the company's Web site. Both of these cases were still pending before the settlement was announced.

Starent, based in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, specializes in network elements that help wireless networks such as 3G, WiMax and LTE (Long-Term Evolution) interact with packet data networks. Its technology is expected to help Cisco expand its presence in fast-growing mobile data networks. Cisco's acquisition of Starent is expected to close in the first half of next year.

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