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Qualcomm hit with anti-trust suit

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Maxim, a billion dollar a year supplier of analog integrated circuits and owner of Dallas Semiconductor, has filed an anti-trust suit against Qualcomm. In a terse statement, Maxim accuses the CDMA pioneer of misusing its patents in "maintaining dominance in the market for CDMA technology by improperly seeking to exclude competition".

Qualcomm sued Maxim in 2002, claiming that the latter infringed five of its patents. Qualcomm owns around 40 per cent of the patents related to CDMA - the others are held by Ericsson and Nokia - but is credited with pioneering the commercial public use of the technology. The Antitrust suit forms part of Maxim's efforts to throw out the case, the company said this week. According to Maxim, Qualcomm has been unable to prove the patent infringement since it filed the 2002 suit.

Both cases will be heard on Qualcomm's home turf in San Diego. Qualcomm said Maxim's action was without merit.

It isn't Qualcomm's first taste of lawsuits alleging anti-competitive actions. Qualcomm had the CDMA chipset business, which accounts for two thirds of the company's income, to itself until a year ago when Nokia, Texas Instruments and ST Micro said they would offer an alternative to Qualcomm's cdma2000 1X and 1xEV-DV chipsets.

Only a couple of months after the pact was announced, Qualcomm smacked Texas Instruments with a suit claiming that TI had breached confidentiality agreements. In September, TI responded with a suit claiming that Qualcomm had been offering unfair discounts to keep to lock-in its customers.®

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