Qualcomm lawsuit extends patent feud with Broadcom

Qualcomm sues Broadcom in the third such patent infringement suit over wireless chipsets.

Qualcomm has asked a federal judge in San Diego to freeze the production of wireless chipsets by Broadcom.

This is the third such lawsuit brought by Qualcomm, and brings to 10 the number of patents that it has accused Broadcom of violating. All the cases are being heard by judges in US District Court for the Southern District of California; the first trial is scheduled to occur in January 2007.

The battle between the chipmakers began in May 2005, when Broadcom filed a suit charging Qualcomm with infringing 10 patents related to wired and wireless communications and multimedia processing.

The latest lawsuit filed Wednesday by Qualcomm, of San Diego, states that Broadcom has misappropriated trade secrets and infringed patents relating to the manufacture and sale of WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) and wireless local area network (LAN) chipsets. It also asks for monetary damages.

WCDMA is a 3G (third-generation) mobile wireless technology that enables high-speed multimedia data flow in cell phones and other portable electronics.

In response, Broadcom said that the suit was merely a distraction from its original patent infringement charge against Qualcomm.

"Broadcom has previously asserted 16 patents against Qualcomm; we don't expect this latest Qualcomm claim to materially change the litigation landscape," said Bill Blanning, vice president for corporate communications at Broadcom, which is based in Irvine, California.

"We believe that Qualcomm's claims are meritless and are surprised that these latest claims were not brought to our attention before they ran to court."

The original fight will continue in August, when the US International Trade Commission (ITC) will render a decision on Broadcom's accusation that Qualcomm violated three patents.

That lawsuit holds that Qualcomm's current and next-generation cellular baseband and radio frequency products infringe on a number of Broadcom patents, Blanning said. Broadcom claims it owns the original patents on electronics that enable the convergence of MP3, television, portable video devices, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular products.

Including this latest lawsuit, the fight between Qualcomm and Broadcom now spans courtrooms from the ITC to the District Courts of Santa Ana and San Diego as well as antitrust claims filed in both the US and Europe, he said.

Broadcom makes semiconductors for communications devices in the home, enterprise and mobile markets, including PC Bluetooth links, set-top boxes, mobile phones and VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol).

Qualcomm chipsets act as the backbones for 3G wireless devices, allowing wireless phones, PDAs (personal digital assistants) and laptops to share multimedia data like digital pictures and music. The company holds 4,300 U.S. patents for CDMA and WCDMA technologies.

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