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Subsidiary drawn into C&W-Akamai court battle

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Cable & Wireless Plc has added another patent infringement lawsuit to the seemingly endless barrage of litigation between itself and Akamai Technologies Inc, Kevin Murphy writes. In a complaint filed this week in San Francisco, the company also listed Akamai spin-off Sockeye Networks Inc as a defendant.

C&W says Akamai and Sockeye offerings infringe US patent 6,275,470, which C&W calls its "HHARP" patent. The suit targets, for the first time, Akamai's flagship EdgeSuite content delivery network service, as opposed to its older FreeFlow offering. FreeFlow is already the subject of two patent infringement suits.

HHARP, for "host-to-host adaptive routing protocol", is a method of finding the best internet link to send data on in real time, by testing multiple links for their "cost" in terms of time, money and other factors whenever the default link exceeds certain cost parameters.

C&W says EdgeSuite does precisely this. Akamai said: "We believe the claims are without merit" and "we are confident that Akamai does not infringe". Sockeye offers a service that uses data from Akamai's route testing to provide multi-homed companies with intelligent routing

Sockeye CEO Valeri Marks, said: "We are confident that we do not infringe on the patent and that the claims are totally without merit. It appears that C&W is attempting to involve Sockeye in an ongoing disagreement with Akamai Technologies."

C&W attorney Howard Lasky told ComputerWire that patent was issued a year ago, but as Akamai has played its cards close to its chest as to how EdgeSuite works "it was exceedingly difficult to get any information". However, recently information has emerged in study that leads C&W to believe its patent is infringed.

"We believe that Cable & Wireless is again acting to divert attention from the permanent injunction that is expected to be issued against them this summer, by the Federal District Court, as a result of a jury finding that Cable & Wireless' Footprint content delivery service infringes Akamai patent rights," an Akamai spokesperson said.

In a separate case in Boston, Judge Rya Zobel is currently considering the wording of an injunction against C&W's CDN (formerly Digital Island Inc, now called Exodus). C&W says that Akamai is trying to persuade Zobel to define "hostname" to mean something that will mean C&W's already-implemented workaround still infringes Akamai's patent.

Akamai has been extremely aggressive in its patent enforcement strategy. It is also suing Speedera Networks Inc, a newer competitor that claims to be eroding Akamai's market share, for patent infringement and false advertising, among other things. There are currently about half a dozen patents in play, with more likely, in three lawsuits.

The latest suit has the potential to spill over in to a related industry. Sockeye competes against vendors including F5 Networks Inc, netVmg Inc, RouteScience Inc and Proficient Networks Inc in the internet route control business. Lasky said C&W has "not yet" turned its attention to these firms.

© ComputerWire

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