Judge kills Broadcom patent lawsuit against Qualcomm

By , IDG News Service |  Legal, Broadcom, Qualcomm

A U.S. judge has dismissed a patent lawsuit brought by chip maker Broadcom against rival Qualcomm, saying the company didn't identify specific patents it was suing over.

Judge William Hayes of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California dismissed the Broadcom complaint last Thursday. The judgment was made available late Friday.

Broadcom has a separate patent lawsuit pending against Qualcomm in the same district court. The two companies have filed several patent lawsuit against each other in recent years.

In this lawsuit, Broadcom had argued that Qualcomm was unfairly limiting competition by putting excessive conditions in its patent licensing terms. Qualcomm licensed its chipset-related patents to other chip makers on the condition that they only sell their products to mobile handset-makers that also have Qualcomm patent licenses, and those license agreements were anticompetitive and discouraged handset-makers from using technology from other companies, Broadcom alleged.

Qualcomm's actions violated the U.S. legal doctrine called patent exhaustion, which generally recognizes that downstream buyers of products containing patented technologies don't have to negotiate a separate license agreement with the original patent holder, Broadcom alleged.

In November, Qualcomm filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, saying Broadcom failed "to specify a single device, a single patent, a single license, or a single sale" in its lawsuit.

Hayes agreed. "Although Broadcom acknowledges that Qualcomm possesses thousands of patents relating to wireless chipsets and handsets, Broadcom does not identify with any specificity the patents which it requests that the court declare exhausted," he wrote. "The court cannot make this determination on the facts as alleged in the complaint because Broadcom does not identify with any specificity a patent that was substantially embodied in a chipset or handset, or an exhaustion triggering sale or license."

Broadcom said in a statement it intends to refile the lawsuit within two weeks.

Representatives of Qualcomm weren't immediately available for comment.

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