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Broadcom Piles on Qualcomm's Legal Woes

Broadcom  accused rival wireless technology vendor Qualcomm  of engaging "in a pattern of misconduct" in a lawsuit filed yesterday in Orange County, Calif.

The company is asking the court to hold some of Qualcomm's patents unenforceable and to pay unspecified damages resulting from business Broadcom said it lost as a result of Qualcomm's behavior.

Qualcomm has improperly concealed its patents, reneged on licensing obligations and tried to exert dominance over a standards body "through hidden affiliations," Broadcom said in a statement.

According to Broadcom, Qualcomm covertly dominated the 802.20 working group committee of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) by hiring working group members who didn't disclose their affiliations with Qualcomm, in the hopes of winning votes that favored its technology at the expense of others.

The IEEE suspended the working group when it discovered the subterfuge, according to Broadcom.

Broadcom also alleges that its rival is charging discriminatory licensing fees against handset makers that don't incorporate Qualcomm chips.

While Qualcomm is entitled to charge royalties for intellectual property that is used in the H.264 video compression standard, it has pledged to charge the same level of royalty regardless of which chipset is used in the phone.

"The effect is that it really allows them to hijack the standard," Broadcom attorney David Rosmann told internetnews.com. "Qualcomm needs to stop this widespread standards abuse," he added.

A spokeswoman for Qualcomm said the company had not had a chance to review the complaint and thus "we don't have a lot to say at this time."

Broadcom is also one of six companies filing a complaint against Qualcomm before the European Union's Competition Committee, along with Nokia , Texas Instruments , Ericsson , Panasonic Mobile and NEC.

The companies allege that Qualcomm is engaged in anticompetitive conduct in the licensing of its patents and the sale of its chipsets for mobile wireless devices and systems, and that Qualcomm is failing to meet the commitments it made to license its technology on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.

The companies have filed a similar complaint before the Korean Fair Trade Commission.

Qualcomm is also involved in separate patent infringement litigation with Nokia.