Not So Exhausted: Court Tosses Broadcom Suit Against Qualcomm

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The United States District Court for the Southern District of California has thrown out a suit brought against mobile technology developer Qualcomm by rival Broadcom, closing yet another chapter in the companies’ long-running patent disputes. Broadcomm’s suit, filed in October 2008, alleged that Qualcomm was misusing its patents to effectively recover double royalties on particular technologies. According to Broadcom, the company was using so-called “exhausted” patents that were no longer enforceable under U.S. laws to control the market for recycled and re-sold wireless communications components.

However, the court didn’t buy Broadcom’s argument, with U.S. District Court Judge William Hayes finding that Broadcom had failed to show it was entitled to any relief because it hadn’t identified any Qualcomm patents that were allegedly exhausted. The judge also ruled that Broadcom’s claims of damages were too speculative to support the claims in the suit.

Qualcomm and Broadcom have been embroiled in years of patent litigation; the exhaustion suit was generally seen as yet one more tactic in the companies’ larger disputes. Last September, an appeals court ruled that Qualcomm had infringed on two Broadcom patents (and upheld an injunction) but ruled in Qualcomm’s favor on one patent in the case.