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Broadcom Moves to Dismiss Its Microtune Patent Suit

Another chapter in the ongoing legal saga between rival semiconductor makers Broadcom and Microtune appears to be coming to a close, with Broadcom filing to dismiss with prejudice a patent suit against Microtune.

Irvine, Calif.-based Broadcom filed the suit on July 15, 2002 in the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division, alleging that solid state RF tuner products made by Plano, Texas-based Microtune infringed Broadcom's U.S. Patent No. 6,377,315, "System and Method for Providing a Low Power Receiver Design."

The trial in that case was scheduled to begin in January 2004, but Microtune Friday said Broadcom asked the court to dismiss the suit on Wednesday.

The motion to dismiss comes ahead of an expected court order construing Broadcom's claims in the patent, based on a Markman Hearing held on May 28.

While the court has not yet ruled on Broadcom's motion to dismiss, Microtune said it is reviewing its rights to seek legal costs and fees for the lawsuit. It has not yet made a decision.

The case is only one of a handful of suits in the air between the two rivals. On March 21, 2002, a jury ruled in favor of Microtune in a patent infringement case against Broadcom, finding that Microtune's U.S. Patent No. 5,737,035, was valid and that Broadcom was infringing. The '035 patent covers technology found in Microtune's single-chip tuner, which allows for high-speed delivery of video, voice and data across broadband communications electronics, including cable modems, set-top boxes, digital TVs, cable telephony systems and PC/TVs.

The court barred Broadcom from selling its BCM3415 silicon tuner and certain reference boards containing the technology.

Broadcom has also filed a case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, seeking monetary damages and a permanent injunction against the manufacture and sale of devices that Broadcom feels infringe on electrostatic discharge protection circuits and other wireless technologies, which the firm said are covered by its patents No. 6,445,039B1, "System and Method for ESD Protection," and No. 5,682,379 and 6,359,872, both titled "Wireless Personal Local Area Network."

Meanwhile, Microtune has filed antitrust claims against Broadcom, and Broadcom has filed an unfair trade practices complaint against Microtune with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).

Microtune currently holds 23 U.S. patents for its technology, with more than 50 applications pending approval that span its RF and wireless products, containing more than 2,000 supporting claims.

Broadcom currently has 250 U.S. patents under its belt, out of which 100 relate to tuner, mixed signal and wireless technologies.