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November 11, 1994

US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE PROVIDES NEW TWIST IN PROTRACTED QUALCOMM/INTER DIGITAL PATENT BATTLE

By CBR Staff Writer

A patent battle over Code Division Multiple Access technology between San Diego, California-headquartered Qualcomm Inc and King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based InterDigital Technology Corp has been given a new turn by the US Patent & Trademark Office. The Office has informed Qualcomm that it has declared an interference, or possible impediment, against three of InterDigital Technology’s patents. Qualcomm has been named the senior party in each of these cases, which means that the Patent Office has initially determined that the Code Division Multiple Access inventions at issue were first devised by Qualcomm. A final decision by the Patent Office that this determination is correct would result in it striking InterDigital Technology’s patent claims and granting Qualcomm the claims covering the inventions at issue. The three InterDigital Technology patents that are the subject of the interference proceedings include the company’s patents covering pilot signals when a mobile telephone is first activated and power control for spread spectrum transmitters. However, the telephone patent is one of three being asserted by InterDigital Technology against Qualcomm in a pending patent infringement lawsuit between the two companies, which is expected to come to trial later this month. The declaration of interference by the Patent Office raises serious questions about three of InterDigital Technology’s Code Division Multiple Access patents, said Ben Miller, Qualcomm’s patent counsel. The Patent Office is placing the burden on InterDigital Technology, as the junior party, to prove that it was the first to invent the technology. Miller added that, in his opinion, it would be difficult for InterDigital Technology to overcome this burden, as Qualcomm’s effective filing dates precede the filing dates of InterDigital Technology’s patents by six months to over one year. InterDigital Technology is still pursuing L M Ericsson Telefon AB and OKI America Inc through the courts over alleged Time Division Multiple Access patent infringements. The cases are expected to come to court later this year.

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