Broadcom takes hit in patent spat

US chip shop Broadcom suffered a setback in its patent spat with CDMA pioneer Qualcomm Friday, when the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey dismissed Broadcom’s antitrust complaint.

The two chip vendors have been scrapping over alleged antitrust violations by Qualcomm for over a year now. But late last week the court held that Qualcomm’s sales and licensing activities “do not support an inference that competition in the UMTS chipset market is, or will be injured by Qualcomm’s licensing practices.”

Regarding Broadcom’s further allegations that Qualcomm purportedly refused to grant Broadcom a license for patents essential to the WCDMA 3G cellular standard on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, the court held “that Qualcomm’s alleged conduct does not support claims for monopolisation or attempted monopolisation.”

Rather, Qualcomm claims that Broadcom rejected the licensing offer and was unable to participate in the 3G chipset business for that reason.

While Qualcomm is obviously pleased with the ruling, Broadcom has leave to file an amended complaint. David Dull, Broadcom’s senior vice president for business affairs and general counsel said: “The decision does not find that Qualcomm’s alleged misconduct was lawful or that Qualcomm honored its promises to standards setting bodies. Rather, Judge Mary Cooper simply held that Qualcomm’s alleged abuse does not give rise to federal antitrust liability.”

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