Broadcom said it has filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that, if granted, would not knock Qualcomm out of the wireless communications market, but would still severely hamper its rival in several market segments.

Broadcom is asking that the sales and licensing practices of Qualcomm amount to patent misuse, that Qualcomm patents are “exhausted” by Qualcomm's practices, and that Qualcomm's patents and patent licenses are unenforceable.

The legal concept of patent exhaustion is that a company charges licensees twice for using a single patent. In this case, Broadcom is claiming that Qualcomm is charging once for use of some patents, and then again for the use of the same patents in combination with others.

Broadcom and Qualcomm have been involved in a war over patents. Qualcomm is a wireless pioneer, while Broadcom gained its patents through acquisition four years ago.

The most recent major event in the dispute came last month in September, when Broadcom won an affirmation that Qualcomm was indeed violating two of three patents that were the points of most bitter contention between the two.

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