Northrop and Cogent settle lawsuit, forge alliance

Northrop Grumman Corp. has agreed to pay Cogent Systems Inc. $25 million to settle litigation stemming from a lawsuit Cogent filed two years ago. The suit alleged that the defense and technology giant misappropriated Cogent's proprietary fingerprint identification technology for a key overseas project.

The settlement clears the way for companies to form a fresh alliance to provide identification technology and other biometrics to customers around the globe, the two companies said.

"Cogent's settlement with Northrop Grumman removes a major distraction and repairs [Cogent's] relationship with one of the most important biometrics system integrators," said Jeremy Grant, a research analyst with Stanford Group Company.

In an agreement announced yesterday, Northrop Grumman will pay Cogent $25 million and also pay an additional $15 million for a non-exclusive license to use specific Cogent fingerprint identification software in existing programs, such as Britain's IDENT1, a next-generation fingerprint identification system used by England and Wales.

In its 2005 lawsuit, Cogent alleged that Northrop Grumman had misappropriated proprietary technology for automated fingerprint identification software for use on the IDENT1 contract with the British Police Information Technology Organisation. That organization was replaced by the new National Policing Improvement Agency, which has a broader mission and more resources.

In the wake of the settlement, Northrop Grumman and Cogent plan to embark on a five-year research and development agreement through which Northrop Grumman will pay Congent $20 million for products and services.

The new strategic alliance will drive top-line growth for Cogent, Grant said. Moreover, it will bring Cogent into other Northrop Grumman biometric projects such as the Defense Department's Automated Biometric Identification System and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services enrollment program, he said.

Cogent, based in South Pasadena, Calif., is a provider of biometric identification solutions. It offers automated fingerprint and palmprint identification systems.

Northrop Grumman ranks No. 3 on Washington Technology's 2007 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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