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Mobile

Qualcomm wins in court, kind of

Judge says competitor Maxim may have infringed on Qualcomm's patents but won't bar sales of contested cell phone chips.

A federal judge in California has handed Qualcomm a partial victory against competitor Maxim Integrated Products, which Qualcomm claims stole secrets about its cell phone technology.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James Stiven recently ruled in district court in Southern California that Maxim likely did engage in misappropriation and predatory and wrongful conduct. But Stiven refused Qualcomm's request to bar Maxim from selling its WC31 and WC32 chips, which are at the center of the suit, for a year.

"Qualcomm has not demonstrated that past misappropriation has resulted in irreparable injury to Qualcomm," the judge wrote.

A court trial addressing Qualcomm's claims that two of Maxim's cell phone chip lines infringe on a total of four Qualcomm patents begins in June.

Qualcomm hailed the decision Tuesday as more protection for its code division multiple access (CDMA) technology. About one in five cell phones use CDMA, a technique for directing voice calls and data sessions over the air. Qualcomm generates much of its revenue in licensing the technology to manufacturers.

Maxim, in a statement issued last week, noted how the court "did not limit Maxim's right to develop, produce or sell these parts."

Although Qualcomm licenses its CDMA to hundreds of companies, up until about two years ago, it rarely involved courts in any disputes.