updated 10/5/2005 1:06:58 PM ET 2005-10-05T17:06:58

A subsidiary of Sprint Nextel Corp. on Tuesday sued three Internet telephone providers, claiming they're infringing on Sprint's patents.

Sprint Communications Co., based in Overland Park, Kan., is seeking an injunction against Vonage Holdings Corp., Voiceglo Holdings Inc. and theglobe.com, as well as unspecified damages.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of Kansas, claims the three companies are using technology developed by Sprint as far back as 2001 that processes voice calls into packets of data and delivers them over the Web, similar to e-mail. The industry often calls the technology "Voice over Internet Protocol," or VoIP.

The suit doesn't explain how the companies are violating the patents, but company spokeswoman Debra Peterson said "we've been trying to work with these companies for more than a year."

With more than 1 million customers, Edison, N.J.-based Vonage is the country's largest provider of Internet-based telephone service. A spokeswoman for the company didn't immediately return a phone call Tuesday.

Voiceglo, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is a subsidiary of theglobe.com, which also owns a computer-based direct marketing service, a computer games distribution business and publishes Computer Games Magazine.

Ed Cespedes, president for both companies, said he felt confident Voiceglo is not infringing on Sprint's technology.

"Either they don't understand our business or they're trying to say all VoIP is violating their patents," Cespedes said.

Peterson said she couldn't comment about the company's dealings with other VoIP providers.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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