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PCTEL and Intel Agree to Agree

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PCTEL Inc.'s $14.5 million cross-licensing deal with Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) today is intended to help both companies avoid potential patent disputes in the future, the modem maker says.

PCTEL will get access to the Intel patents that are relevant to its product lines, which include various wireless LAN clients and applications (see Novatel, PCTEL Roam). Intel gets access to all of PCTEL's patents and has paid the firm $14.5 million for the pleasure.

Jeff Miller, VP of business development at PCTEL says the patent deal is "a security blanket" for both firms. "We wanted to have some comfort that we weren't going to be stepping on each other toes in the future."

One potential area of future tootsie trampling could have been in the "soft access point" area. Among its products, PCTEL has the Segue "software access point" -- a Windows application that allows a suitably equipped PC to act like an 802.11 AP (see PCTEL Goes Soft ). Intel's emerging platforms unit is looking at similar technology that uses software to support multiple 802.11 standards, reducing the cost and complexity of wireless LAN chipsets (see Intel's Soft Center).

Miller wouldn't confirm (or deny) that PCTEL now has access to those Intel patents in particular, saying that he had to remain "vague" on specifics.

PCTEL has historically been pretty fierce [miaaaooooow!) in protecting its patents. The firm recently settled a legal dispute with Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) over "soft modem" patents (see PCTEL, Broadcom Settle Dispute).

But Miller denies that this had any bearing on the Intel deal. "We weren't in litigation with Intel. It's really a separate thing," he says.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor and Bon Viveur, Unstrung

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