Broadcom wins latest legal round against Qualcomm

Appeals court rules Broadcom can press on with antitrust case against rival chip maker on two of its eight original charges

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that Broadcom could press forward with an antitrust case against rival chip maker Qualcomm, but on only two of the eight original charges, the companies said.

Broadcom says Qualcomm has created a monopoly in the market for wireless technology standards such as CDMA (code division multiple access).

The decision by a group of three judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reverses a verdict by a lower court to dismiss the entire case. In August 2006, a district court in New Jersey had approved Qualcomm's request to dismiss all eight charges.

Last month, Qualcomm lost another round in the long-running battle, when the Bush administration decided not to block a ban imposed by the U.S. International Trade Commission on the domestic sale of mobile devices using certain Qualcomm chips. Broadcom says Qualcomm has infringed its patents on the communications chips used in cell phones.

And in May, a federal court jury awarded Broadcom $19.6 million in damages after finding that Qualcomm had willfully infringed three of its patents. That chain of legal losses helped push Qualcomm's general counsel, Lou Lupin, to resign in August.

When the case returns to the New Jersey court, Broadcom will argue that Qualcomm has failed to fairly license the technology for cellular wireless standards, and ask the judge to eliminate Qualcomm's patent royalties and pay triple damages and attorney's fees, according to a statement by Broadcom General Counsel David Dull.

However, Qualcomm said that the appellate court judges had merely upheld the two remaining charges on a legal technicality, and vowed to vigorously dispute them in court.

Neither Broadcom nor Qualcomm returned calls for comment.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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