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Qualcomm denied in Broadcom patent spat

US chip shop Qualcomm had its request for a preliminary injunction against rival chip firm Broadcom denied late Monday.

US District Court Judge Rudi Brewster said that Qualcomm’s requested injunction to stop Broadcom’s development and sale of 3G cellular chips was “light years beyond” what would be appropriate.

The two chip manufacturers have been scrapping in the courts for some 12 months now, trading lawsuits on Qualcomm’s part alleging trade secret misappropriation and on Broadcom’s part alleging anticompetitive conduct related to the licensing of its patents.

As a compromise, Broadcom and Qualcomm said that they are to agree on a set of documents to be quarantined pending the outcome of the case. Trial of the case is set for October 2007.

But in a separate case, Broadcom has filed a motion for summary judgment aimed at stopping Qualcomm’s alleged practice of seeking multiple patent royalties for the same patents. Broadcom claims that Qualcomm collects royalties not only from its chip competitors, but also from their customers as well as its own customers – a practice known as “double-dipping”.

Following Monday’s hearing, the US International Trade Commission is also expected to make recommendations on the case on October 10. It is reported that the ITC may even recommend a ban on products using Qualcomm technology in the US. The ITC is a federal agency tasked with directing actions against unfair trade practices involving patent, trademark, and copyright infringement.

Some believe Broadcom is trying to force an out of court settlement with its actions.

David Dull, Broadcom’s senior vice president and general counsel said the alleged practices of Qualcomm “not only hurt cellular component providers, handset manufacturers and carriers, but ultimately hurt the consumer as well by raising the cost of cellular phones and chilling the development of innovative technology by the industry.

“For well over a year, we have been asking Qualcomm simply to play by the rules, and allow chipmakers and handset providers to compete fairly on a level playing field,” Dull said.


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