Akamai Technologies Inc., whose services make websites load faster, Wednesday sued competitor Cotendo Inc., accusing it of patent infringement.

Calling startup Cotendo a "relative late-comer" to the market, Akamai said in its lawsuit that the company had infringed on three of its content delivery patents in an effort to compete against Akamai as a low-cost provider.

Akamai filed the suit along with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts. Akamai began as an entry in an MIT competition, and one of Akamai's patents has been licensed from the institution.

"Cotendo has utilized product descriptions and designations developed and used by Akamai in the marketplace for years," the Cambridge, Mass., company said in the suit.

A Cotendo representative declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The patents in dispute were issued to Akamai in 2004, 2007 and as recently as April 2010.

Akamai claims that each of the three counts of alleged patent infringement is causing irreparable damage. Last month, Cotendo signed an agreement with AT&T Inc., under which it will use its technology to make applications, or "apps," perform faster on phones running on AT&T's network.

Cotendo is based in Sunnyvale, Calif. and has received funding from Sequoia Capital, Benchmark Capital and Tenaya Capital.

Shares of Akamai Technologies rose 29 cents to close at $51.85.