Broadcom fires antitrust broadside

Broadcom has commenced litigation against Qualcomm, alleging that the San Diego-based company’s licensing and other practices related to cellular technology and products violate US antitrust laws.


Broadcom Corporation, a global provider of wired and wireless broadband communications semiconductors, has commenced litigation against Qualcomm, alleging that the San Diego-based company’s licensing and other practices related to cellular technology and products violate US antitrust laws.



“Our goal is simply to ensure fair competition and a level playing field, not just for Broadcom, but for the entire cellular industry,” said Scott A. McGregor, Broadcom’s President and CEO. “Qualcomm’s practices prevent that. Their monopoly in CDMA technology has increased the price of cell phones in the US, and we are hoping that the courts will prevent the same thing from happening with the next generation ‘3G’ cell phones. Qualcomm’s monopolistic activities limit competition, stifle innovation, and ultimately harm consumers and service providers.”



Broadcom’s complaint alleges that Qualcomm’s licensing arrangements violate its commitments to provide fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (so-called FRAND) licensing terms to users of technology that is incorporated into telecommunications industry standards.



Broadcom asserts that Qualcomm’s licensing abuses include charging discriminatory royalties, collecting double royalties, and demanding overly broad cross-license rights from its licensees, among other things.



Broadcom also alleges that Qualcomm is engaged in various exclusionary and anticompetitive practices in the supply of cell phone technology and chipsets. Broadcom asserts that the intended impact of these actions is to place competitors like Broadcom at a distinct disadvantage and to reinforce Qualcomm’s dominant position in violation of US antitrust laws.



In the complaint, Broadcom seeks monetary damages as well as a permanent injunction barring Qualcomm’s unfair business practices. A copy of the complaint can be viewed here.



Separately pending between the parties are two patent lawsuits brought by Broadcom alleging that Qualcomm infringes 10 Broadcom patents related to wired and wireless communications and multimedia processing technologies.



Additionally, the United States International Trade Commission has instituted an investigation into whether Qualcomm has engaged in unfair trade practices by importing integrated circuits and other products that infringe five Broadcom patents.