An unknown company has sued Cisco for patent infringement. ConnecTel claims Cisco is using technology that its founder Allen Kaplan invented in the 1990s.

The complaint, filed on Tuesday in Texas, seeks unspecified damages and legal fees as well as an injunction to stop the alleged infringement.

At the heart of the complaint is an intelligent data routing system that can choose the best data path and transmission method in real time, based on multiple factors including bandwidth, availability, security and the user's priority. Kaplan applied for patents on the technology in 1996, said the company's lawyer, Daniel Perez.

Kaplan originally developed the technology as a way to streamline the delivery of faith-based inspirational faxes, the complaint said. He and a partner founded ConnecTel to commercialise the intelligent routing system but the company has never made products itself, choosing instead to license the technology to other companies, Perez said.

ConnecTel introduced its technology to Cisco and offered the company a chance to license it, and Cisco rejected the offer only to later develop product lines that used it, according to the complaint. There are other companies licensing the technology, according to Perez, who said he could not name them for legal reasons. According to Perez at least, the case could be far-reaching, involving possibly billions of dollars in damages.

"A large percentage of Cisco's routers and switches are infringing on one or more of the patents," he said. As an example he cited the Cisco AS5350 Universal Gateway, a wide-area network gateway that can provide data, voice, and fax services on any port at any time.

ConnecTel will seek a jury trial, Perez said. The case has not yet been assigned to a judge, but Perez said he is optimistic it will get to court quickly. Last year, Cisco sued Chinese equipment maker Huawei alleged copying and misappropriation of Cisco technology.

Cisco was unable to comment on the ConnecTel suit because it has not yet seen the complaint, according to a company spokeswoman.