Maxim Levels Antitrust Charge at QUALCOMM

In the latest development in a legal back and forth, Maxim Integrated Products has filed an antitrust lawsuit against QUALCOMM .

The complaint alleges that QUALCOMM of misused its patents for Code-Division Multiple Access technology market to improperly elbow out competition for other mobile phone components.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Diego on Tuesday, is a counterclaim. Two years ago, Sunnyvale, Calif.’s Maxim was on the receiving end of a patent infringement suit brought forward

In that case, QUALCOMM alleged that five of its patents, covering inventions relating to the transmission, reception and processing of radio signals by wireless phones, had been violated.

The company asked the court to order Maxim to halt production of the products in question and pay monetary damages. The suit did not target chips produced by Dallas Semiconductor, a Maxim subsidiary.

Chuck Rigg, Maxim’s vice president and general counsel told that a motion for summary judgment of QUALCOMM’s case will be heard later this month. Then, in June, a judge is expected to interpret the various patent claims in the suits.

For its part, QUALCOMM said Maxim’s counterclaims are without merit, adding in a statement that that they “appear to be the kind of ‘knee-jerk antitrust counterclaims’ which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (the appellate court in charge of appeals in patent cases) has often criticized.”

QUALCOMM is a leader in CDMA, a digital cellular technology that uses spread-spectrum techniques. Unlike the competing Global System for Mobile Communication , it does not assign a specific frequency to each user.

Instead, every channel uses the full available spectrum. Individual conversations are encoded with a pseudo-random digital sequence.

Maxim makes more than 3,000 kinds of analog and mixed-signal integrated circuits (ICs), including more than 2,500 of its own invention. Maxim’s chips – which include amplifiers, data converters, and timing and switching ICs – translate physical data such as temperature, pressure, and sound into digital signals for electronic processing. The company’s products are used by thousands of electronics manufacturers in products including computers and peripherals, industrial controls, telecommunications and networking equipment, military systems, medical devices, instrumentation, and video displays.

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