Legal Tidbits on the Broadcom Suit

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By oroughy
September 5, 2006

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Those of you (anyone?) into the lawyer-ing side of things may be interested to know who was representing whom in this suit. None other than David Boies, the super-lawyer who defeated Microsoft at the district court level in the government's antitrust case several years ago, was representing Broadcom in its antitrust case against Q. Ironically, it was Boies's former firm -- Cravath, Swaine & Moore -- that beat him in the Qualcomm case.

And Broadcom didn't just lose. It lost bad. The court dismissed the entire case. That means the judge looked at Broadcom's complaint and concluded that even if every single allegation in it were true, Qualcomm still would not have committed any antitrust violations. So the court didn't even need to hear Broadcom's evidence. Judge Mary Cooper wrote in her decision: "QUALCOMM's alleged conduct does not support claims for monopolization or attempted monopolization." In litigation, that's the equivalent of a first-round knockout. A backboard-shattering jam. An upper deck HR.

Why is this significant? Because when a litigation god like Boies gets steamrolled, it means he had a very, very weak case to begin with. If he'd had any leg to stand on, he would have turned the case into something formidable. But even Boies got rocked this time. So I'm not worrying too much about Broadcom's threats to appeal. I just hope they're ordered to pay all of Q's legal costs after they lose.

What is still worrisome, however, is Broadcom's and others' continuing efforts to persuade the European Commission to take action against Q. The antitrust rules are different in Europe, as I've mentioned before. They're not as defendant-friendly as the US antitrust laws are, so although things are improving on that front in Europe, it's still not clear that the EC will come to the same conclusion as Judge Cooper. Nevertheless, the fact that Broadcom couldn't get past square one in the US bodes well.

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