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ITC Rules on Avago, Mellanox Patent Dispute

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2014 — Both Mellanox Technologies Ltd. and Avago Technologies are claiming victories in recent rulings by the International Trade Commission (ITC) regarding an ongoing patent dispute.

Avago's claims that Mellanox of Sunnyvale, Calif., and FCI of France infringed on two of its US patents center around active optical cables (AOCs) and optical transceivers. The patents specifically cover the use of vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) technology and drivers.

Regarding US Patent No. 5,596,595, which covers VCSEL technology used in data center, enterprise network and high-performance computing applications, the ITC ruled that Mellanox and FCI did infringe on Avago's intellectual property by importing and selling optical communication products with VCSELs based on Avago's IP. This technology is used by Mellanox and FCI in InfiniBand and Ethernet adapters, switches, routers, servers, external storage systems and supercomputers.

Mellanox has asked the ITC to review this finding, alleging that the ITC administrative law judge did not follow the law in construing the claims regarding this patent. A determination on this issue is expected by mid-April.

Regarding the other patent (US Patent No. 6,947,456), which covers VCSEL drivers, the ITC found that Mellanox and FCI were not in violation. In the investigation, part of Avago's claim with this patent focused on IPtronics’ drivers used by Mellanox and FCI in AOC products.

Avago said it plans to request an exclusion order from the ITC, which would prevent Mellanox and FCI from importing products that use the VCSEL drivers. It is unclear when a determination will be made.

The patent dispute started in 2010, when Avago sued IPtronics for patent damages, trade secret misappropriation and unfair competition. Mellanox acquired IPtronics in 2013.

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