On Thursday, January 18th, Overland Park, KS-based telecom firm Sprint Corporation (NYSE:S) and Atlanta, GA-based broadband provider Cox Communications announced a multi-year business agreement resulting from the settlement of a patent infringement case between the two companies. The settlement, which is “designed to strengthen each company,” provides a brief glimpse into how a patent squabble can be resolved for the betterment of all parties involved in the case.
Executives from both Sprint and Cox Communications seemed upbeat on news of the settlement agreement. “This is another opportunity to work with a strategic partner to accelerate our densification plans to improve our network performance and experience for Sprint customers throughout Cox’s national territory,” said John Saw, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Sprint. Meanwhile, Steve Rowley, Executive Vice President of Cox Business, said that, “We are pleased to continue our positive, long-term working relationship that benefits both companies and consumers,” according to the release.
Sprint first filed a complaint for patent infringement against Cox in the District of Kansas back in December 2011. A series of 12 patents were asserted in the case, which were developed due in large part to the work of a Sprint technologist in the mid-1990s, resulting in a series of architectures and processes to support Voice-over-Packet (VoP) technology which enabled the seamless routing of telephone calls over disparate packet-based networks. The complaint alleged that Cox’s digital telephony services infringed on the patents-in-suit.
This case was transferred to the District of Delaware where Cox filed a complaint in April 2012 alleging that Sprint’s patents-in-suits were invalid and asserting two of its own patents against Sprint’s mobile video products. However, on December 7th, 2017, both Sprint and Cox entered a stipulation and proposed order for dismissal which indicated that the two firms had entered into a settlement agreement to end the patent litigation ongoing between them.
According to the a jointly issued press release, Sprint will be given the ability to utilize Cox’s broadband infrastructure in order to “accelerate the densification of the Sprint network,” increasing its ability to deliver services to its customers nationwide. The agreement is also expected to increase the efficiency of Sprint’s micro backhaul and small cell deployment. Cox’s broadband infrastructure reaches approximately 6 million total residential and commercial customers across 18 states.
The deployment of Sprint’s Densification and Optimization toolkit across Cox’s broadband infrastructure should help increase both the download and upload times experienced by Sprint customers. Although the press release did not indicate any specific benefits of the agreement to Cox, other than the end of Sprint’s patent litigation campaign, it’s acknowledged that the agreement is intended to increase and strengthen business ties between the two companies.