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Broadcom seeks to halt Intel chip shipments

The communications chip company asks a judge to block rival Intel from shipping some of its latest networking chips.

Broadcom has fired another shot in its legal battle with Intel, asking a Santa Clara, Calif., judge to block Intel from shipping some of its latest networking chips.

In a court filing late yesterday, Broadcom alleged that Intel misappropriated Broadcom trade secrets related to Gigabit Ethernet networking. The Irvine, Calif.-based chipmaker seeks to have the court issue an injunction blocking Intel from shipping two chips that it says use Broadcom technology. Broadcom also seeks to prevent any further use of its trade secrets and asks the court to appoint a special master to monitor Intel's compliance.

A spokesman for Santa Clara-based Intel said Broadcom's claim is "totally without merit. We will present evidence at the hearing that will defend that position."

Broadcom's request for an injunction is part of its cross-complaint to an Intel suit, filed in March, alleging that Broadcom got access to Intel trade secrets from several former Intel workers who were interviewed and subsequently hired by Broadcom. In that case, the judge allowed the workers to remain at Broadcom but issued a preliminary injunction preventing them from disclosing Intel trade secrets and appointed a special master to oversee Broadcom's actions, saying Broadcom's executives were "not credible" in their testimony.

Intel upped the legal ante late last month, suing Broadcom in U.S. District Court in Delaware, alleging Broadcom has violated five Intel patents. Broadcom CEO Henry Nicholas later issued a statement blasting Intel for what it said was an attempt to slow competition.

A lawyer for Broadcom said that information disclosed as part of Intel's trade secrets claim provides evidence of Intel's trade secret misappropriation.

"Intel's lawsuit resulted in the disclosure which led Broadcom to what it believes is a smoking gun of Intel's own misappropriation," said Rico Rosales, a lawyer for Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, the law firm representing Broadcom. Rosales said the "smoking gun" is part of evidence under seal that includes Intel documents and statements from Intel workers.

Broadcom filed its cross-complaint in June and amended it earlier this month before asking for an injunction this week.

In the latest documents, Broadcom claims that Intel obtained boards with Broadcom's Gigabit Ethernet chip and used the Broadcom chips during demonstrations at two trade shows and also to develop its own competing products.

Intel was an early investor in Broadcom, but relations between the two companies have grown increasingly contentious. The companies now compete in a number of emerging communications markets, including high-speed networking.