Rupaka Mahalingaiah, a female electrical engineer, inventor and entrepreneur, has filed enforcement actions against 8 companies in U.S. District Court in Marshall, Texas, alleging infringement of patents related to the architecture of communications networks.

The actions name Broadcom Corp., Extreme Networks, Intel Corp., Cisco Systems, Arista Networks, Hewlett Packard Co., Huawei Device USA and Juniper Networks.

The enforcement actions involve seven patents including U.S. Patent Nos. 6,587,462, entitled “Address mapping mechanism enabling multi-domain addressing in communication networks;” 6,643,286, entitled “Modular switches interconnected across a communication network to achieve minimal address mapping or translation between termination devices;” 6,788,701, entitled “Communication network having modular switches that enhance data throughput;” 6,804,235, entitled “Address mapping mechanism enabling multi-domain addressing in communication networks;” 7,778,259, entitled “Network packet
transmission mechanism;” 6,912,196, entitled Commutation network and protocol which can efficiently maintain transmission across a disrupted network;” 6,754,214, entitled Communication network having packetized security codes and a system for detecting security breach locations within the network.”

The suits were brought by Dunti Network Technologies LLC, based in Longview, Texas. Mahalingaiah, who is a named inventor on the patents in suit, assigned the patents to Dunti in order to bring the enforcement actions.

The complaint relies heavily on Mahalingaiah's impressive story as a foreign-born, female engineer in the 1980s, who worked her way up the ranks of network engineers against significant odds and is the named inventor on nearly 50 U.S. patents.

Mahalingaiah and her counsel may be hoping that her career and resume will be impressive enough to a jury in order to inoculate her from counter arguments that she and Dunti are just the latest example of so-called patent trolls, who make nothing from their patents and whose lawsuits are little more than a shakedown of real innovators.

“Even today, female engineers are rare in the American workforce, comprising just over ten percent of all engineers in recent government surveys,” the complaint says.

The action notes that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey, women comprised just 10.3% of American engineers in 2003, and 11.7% in 2011.

“When Rupaka began her career in the 1980s, female engineers were rarer still—and foreign-born, female, computer engineers were almost inconceivable. Yet through many years of hard work, creativity, and innovation, Rupaka did more than just defy the odds (and overcome large-scale industry pushback and skepticism)—she became an American engineering success story by any measure.”

After graduating with a BS in Electrical Engineering from Bangalore University and an MS in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech, Mahalingaiah started her career at Concurrent Computer Corp., which specialized in multi-processing systems for real-time computing. She later went to work for Teradata, a hardware/software company built around research conducted at the California Institute of Technology. She also spent three years at Advanced Micro Devices Corp., “where she was one of the lead architects on K7/K7+, which became AMD’s wildly successful Athlon processor.”

“Although she was only at AMD for three years, her contributions during that time were enduring, helping to generate billions of dollars in revenue and resulting in over 30 patents,” the complaint says, noting in a footnote that Mahalingaiah is the named inventor on nearly 50 U.S. patents in total.

According to the complaints, Mahalingiaiah’s innovations at AMD have inspired others and been cited by nearly one-thousand U.S. patents and published patent applications as prior art before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The complaint says 418 companies have cited Mahalingaiah’s patents and applications including: International Business Machines Corp., Oracle Corp., Fujitsu Ltd., Sun Microsystems Inc., Intel, Qualcomm Inc., Cisco Technology Inc., Texas Instruments Inc., ARM Holdings PLC, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Freescale Semiconductor Inc., SK Hynix Inc., Rambus Inc. Hitachi Ltd. and Apple Inc.

Mahalingaiah “left AMD in 1997 to become an entrepreneur, shifting her focus from architecting fast, efficient processors to architecting fast, efficient networks. She recognized the inefficiencies, lack of fault tolerance, and security vulnerabilities in then-state-of-the-art network designs, so she set out to solve the separate but related problems of (1) network inefficiency and (2) the lack of network security. It was at this time that Rupaka began to develop the technologies that would be the foundation of Dunti’s next-generation networking systems.

In early 1999, Mahalingaiah and Viren Kapadia began working together to perfect and expand on her network security and efficiency innovations. “Combining Rupaka’s expertise in processor design and Viren’s expertise in network communications, they created a new holistic network architecture that solved many of the problems inherent to computer networks of that time and that would become widely used in modern data centers."

The complaint explains that recognizing the importance of what they had developed, Mahalingaiah set out to build and commercialize this new network architecture, hiring a team of engineers to create several operational prototypes of the Dunti network module—the Dunti Trupta.

“Unfortunately, Rupaka set out to fund her technical innovations at the worst possible time—at the height of the dot-com and telecom crashes in late 2000 and early 2001. With venture capital all but extinct market wide, Rupaka was unable to widely commercialize her Dunti inventions in this period.”

The complaint also notes that Mahalingaiah’s “groundbreaking innovations in network architecture and module design” gained the attention of the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Homeland Security—all of which awarded her Small Business Innovation Research grants to develop other computing and networking technologies.

In 2005, the Department of Defense asked Mahalingaiah to present her technological innovations to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to further the agency’s mission of working to transform revolutionary concepts and even seeming impossibilities into practical capabilities.

Dunti and Mahalingaiah are represented by Matt Olavi, Brian Dunne and Douglas Meier of the law firm of Olavi Dunne LLP in Austin, Texas.

They also are represented by Elizabeth DeRieux and D. Jeffrey Ramblin of Capshaw DeRieux LLP in Gladewater, Texas.

Neither Mahalingaiah nor her counsel could be reached for comment for this story.

—To reach the reporter responsible for this story, please contact Dan Lonkevich at 707 318-7899 or dan@thepatentinvestor.com