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Sprint Sues Time Warner, Comcast Over Digital Phone Technology

Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Sprint Nextel Corp., the third-largest U.S. wireless operator, accused Time Warner Cable Inc., Comcast Corp. and two other cable-TV companies of infringing patents related to transmitting phone calls over digital lines.

Sprint filed separate lawsuits today in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, against Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Cable One Inc. and Cox Communications Inc. Overland Park, Kansas-based Sprint claims the companies are using technology it patented in the 1990s for transmission of voice data packets.

The companies “have realized the great value in this technology and have misappropriated it without Sprint’s permission,” Sprint said in each complaint.

The 12 patents include some that were asserted against Vonage Holdings Corp., which agreed to pay $80 million to license the technology after losing a 2007 trial.

Alex Dudley, a spokesman for New York-based Time Warner Cable, said the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation. John Demming, a spokesman for Philadelphia-based Comcast, also declined to comment.

Rima Calderon, a spokeswoman for Cable One parent Washington Post Co., said the Washington-based company doesn’t comment on litigation. Todd Smith, a spokesman for Atlanta-based Cox, declined to comment, citing the pending lawsuit.

The cases are Sprint Communications Co. v. Time Warner Capt Inc., 11cv2686; Sprint v. Cable One Inc., 11cv2685; Sprint v. Comcast Cable Communications LLC, 11cv2684; and Sprint v. Cox Communications Inc., 11cv2683, all U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas (Kansas City).

To contact the reporter on this story: Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: T at mshepard7@bloomberg.net

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