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Broadcom hammers hard at Qualcomm

Fri, 04/13/2007 - 10:10am
Brian Santo, CED

What looked like the beginnings of a truce was merely an interlude between battles. Scant weeks after Qualcomm dropped some patent infringement charges against Broadcom, Broadcom has filed a new suit against Qualcomm charging its rival with a variety of actions that qualify as fraud and breach of contract, all in violation of California's unfair competition statute.

Broadcom claims that Qualcomm, in its dealings with several standards bodies, improperly concealed patents, reneged on licensing obligations, and exerted dominance through hidden affiliations. The complaint, filed in California Superior Court in Orange County, alleges that Qualcomm has engaged in a pattern of misconduct across multiple technologies and multiple standards bodies, including those responsible for setting cellular, video and mobile broadband standards.

The new charges are built on the results of an earlier lawsuit. On March 22, the U.S. District Court in San Diego adopted a unanimous jury finding that Qualcomm violated its duty to disclose patents to the international organization that developed the H.264 video compression standard.

That court is scheduled to hold a hearing on the proper remedy for Qualcomm's violation on May 2.

Separately, in June 2006 the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) suspended its 802.20 standards working group, which had been developing a "4G" wireless communication standard, after an investigation revealed that Qualcomm covertly dominated that group by hiring working group members who did not disclose their affiliations with Qualcomm.

"We now know that Qualcomm has been playing games with industry standards processes for years, leaving both consumers and competitors like Broadcom to pay a heavy price," said David A. Dull, Broadcom's senior vice president and general counsel. "Our goal is to put a stop to this improper behavior and force Qualcomm to play by the same rules that apply to its competitors as well as its own customers."

The relief Broadcom seeks from Qualcomm in the lawsuit includes disgorgement of profits, restitution, compensatory and punitive damages, and a permanent injunction barring Qualcomm from seeking to enforce certain cellular, video, and mobile broadband patents against Broadcom or Broadcom's customers.

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