Qualcomm Files Third Broadcom Suit

Updated: The handset technology specialist files its third patent suit against chip-set maker Broadcom as the former partners continue to step up their complex intellectual property war.

Qualcomm launched a third lawsuit against former partner Broadcom as the two companies continue to expand their respective claims of trade secret misappropriation and patent infringement.

The wireless technology vendor, which markets products including chip sets and software used in wireless devices running on CDMA (code division multiple access) networks, charged in its latest suit that Broadcom stole information related to the development and marketing of integrated circuits used to support multimedia capabilities on emerging wideband CDMA networks. The company charges further that Broadcom used the trade secrets to tilt the scales in its favor in competing for sales of chip sets in the WCDMA market.

The complaint, filed in federal court in San Diego, specifically accuses Broadcom of infringing on U.S. Patent No. 6,717,908 based on its sales of WCDMA and wireless LAN chip sets. Qualcomm is seeking an injunction prohibiting Broadcoms continued use of the involved intellectual property, in addition to unspecified monetary damages.

Broadcom labeled the patent suit as merely Qualcomms latest response to its own intellectual property claims, and said that the new charges are without merit. Officials said that the chip maker was also surprised that Qualcomm didnt inform it of the new claims before filing the matter in court.

The filing marks the latest twist in an increasingly complex set of intellectual property suits filed between the two companies, some of which are based on a previous partnership held between the two large companies.

The newest lawsuit is the third patent infringement case brought by Qualcomm, including two others currently pending in the San Diego court, the first of which is set to be heard in January 2007. The company contends that Broadcom has violated 10 of its patents for various types of wireless technologies.

Meanwhile, the United States International Trade Commission has begun proceedings for its hearings in a patent dispute between the companies that will determine whether or not Qualcomm engaged in unfair business practices by importing wireless device chips and chip sets from outside the United States that Broadcom contends infringed on one or more of its own patents.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more about the ITC proceedings.

And in May 2005, Broadcom launched patent infringement claims with both the ITC and in federal court in Santa Ana, Calif., alleging that Qualcomm had violated terms of a licensing agreement signed by the two firms in 2001 regarding Bluetooth wireless communications technologies. In those filings, Broadcom charges that Qualcomms current and next-generation cellular and RF (radio-frequency) product lines infringe on a number of its patents.

Broadcom is also pursuing several cases against Qualcomm worldwide. In October 2005, the chip maker and several other firms filed complaints to the European Commission requesting that it investigate Qualcomms business practices based on claims that the handset maker had engaged in anti-competitive conduct via its licensing practices for patents related to 3G mobile technology.

In that complaint, Broadcom charges that Qualcomm violated international regulations by attempting to exclude competing manufacturers of chip sets for mobile phones from the European market.

Editors Note: This story was updated to include additional information from Broadcom.

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