The Broadcom complaint, filed this week in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego, seeks a declaratory judgment against Qualcomm and argues in part that Qualcomm used "exhausted" patents to charge royalties for both chips in handsets and for the handsets themselves.
Broadcom cited a recent case between Quanta Computer and LG Electronics that was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court as precedent in the litigation. Qualcomm, however, said Broadcom has misinterpreted the high court ruling.
In a statement released Wednesday, Broadcom charged that "Qualcomm's use of 'exhausted' patents to control post-sale use of products in the wireless communications industry results in a double recovery of royalties ... to Qualcomm for the use of its patents. It further asserts that these practices constitute patent misuse that has brought Qualcomm a financial windfall and brought harm to the industry and consumers."
Qualcomm has a massive patent portfolio and Broadcom was recently successful in challenging the validity of some key Qualcomm patents. Last month, after lengthy litigation, a U.S. Appeals Court in California upheld a jury verdict that Qualcomm had infringed two of Broadcom's patents, although that court favored Qualcomm on a third patent.
Earlier this year, Qualcomm ended even lengthier patents litigation with Nokia in which Nokia agreed to a payment schedule for royalties to Qualcomm's intellectual property. The Broadcom-Qualcomm patents skirmishing could follow the Nokia-Qualcomm litigation as a prelude to an eventual settlement.
Broadcom, like Nokia before it, has put pressure on Qualcomm to settle by winning some legal battles along the way to a final settlement.