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Judge charges six Qualcomm lawyers of 'exceptional misconduct'

Posted: 10 Jan 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Qualcomm lawyers? judge ruling? patent lawsuit?

Qualcomm Inc.'s legal woes persisted as a federal magistrate criticized six of its attorneys who were engaged in patent litigation with rival Broadcom Corp. Magistrate Judge Barbara Major accused the offending lawyers of "exceptional misconduct" and asked the California State Bar Association to investigate their actions.

The issue involves charges that the Qualcomm attorneys improperly withheld thousands of pages of e-mails and documents in litigation with Broadcom. Qualcomm filed the initial lawsuit against Broadcom in 2005, charging that the competitor had violated Qualcomm video compression patents.

In a statement following Major's 48-page decision, which was issued Jan. 7, Qualcomm said it regretted "the discovery errors that occurred in this case. However, as we pointed out in our brief to the appellate court when Qualcomm discovered additional documents after the trial, it produced them and apologized to the court and Broadcom for the errors. These actions defy any suggestion that Qualcomm engaged in intentional misconduct." Qualcomm indicated it could appeal the decision after it studies it further.

The judge ordered Qualcomm to review its practices and report back to her on its progress later this month. Another 13 lawyers representing Qualcomm were exonerated by Major.

In her ruling, the judge stated: "Producing 1.2 million pages of marginally relevant documents while hiding 46,000 critically important ones does not constitute good faith and does not satisfy either the client's or attorney's discovery obligations."

The issue revolved around whether Qualcomm had disclosed the patents at issue to a standards committee. The judge said Qualcomm had withheld the documents in an attempt to win the case.

- W. David Gardner

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