RealTime IT News

Broadcom Hits Qualcomm Over 3G Patents

Communications chip maker Broadcom has slapped a lawsuit on wireless networking giant Qualcomm , alleging that its rival's use of third-generation patents violates U.S. antitrust laws.

The complaint revolves around Qualcomm's Wideband Code Division Multiple Access technology, which is implemented through the Universal Mobile Telephone Systems standard.

Broadcom says that when international industry groups were hammering out wireless broadband standards, "Qualcomm represented that it would license its WDMA patents on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (that is, so-called 'FRAND') terms."

But after the UMTS was adopted, Qualcomm disregarded these commitments, Broadcom alleges in the complaint. Broadcom makes its own UMTS chipsets that would compete with Qualcomm's, but it has been unable to work out license agreements, essentially blocking it from the market.

"Qualcomm has refused to license to Broadcom on FRAND terms the patents that Qualcomm asserts are essential for UMTS chipsets, and Qualcomm has used its unlawful and anticompetitive licensing and exclusivity agreements with cell phone manufacturers to undermine competition," the lawsuit charges.

"We're looking into it," Patty Goodwin, a spokeswoman for San Diego-based Qualcomm, told internetnews.com. "We believe their allegations are without merit." The suit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court of New Jersey.

Irvine, Calif.-based Broadcom seeks monetary damages as well as a permanent injunction barring Qualcomm's unfair business practices.

"Our goal is simply to ensure fair competition and a level playing field, not just for Broadcom, but for the entire cellular industry," Scott A. McGregor, Broadcom's president and CEO, said in a statement today.