LONDON Wireless chip group Qualcomm Inc. has become embroiled in yet another patent litigation battle, this time focusing on assisted-GPS technology and against U.S. homeland security company Gabriel Technologies.
In a suit claiming $ 1billion damages, Gabriel claims that Qualcomm's subsidiary SnapTrack, acquired in 2000 for $1 billion in stock, improperly appropriated intellectual property rights as part of a joint development agreement with Locate Networks. Gabriel says that these rights were acquired by its own subsidiary, Trace Technologies, and that Qualcomm wrongly seized 90 patents by claiming ownership.
In the suit, to be heard in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, San Diego Division, Nabraska-based Gabriel is asking the court to declare that the company owns the contested technology and related patents and other IPR. It also makes claims of breach of the joint development agreement, fraud, misappropriation and unfair competition.
According to the complaint, SnapTrack began taking and unlawfully patenting Locate's technology when it was still an independent company, hoping to boost its patent portfolio and make itself more attractive for acquisition by a larger company. The lawsuit states that SnapTrack's then head of technology, Norman Krasner, and his wife received 300,000 shares of Qualcomm stock.
The disputed technology involves enhancements to Assisted GPS, which helps integrate GPS into mobile devices. Qualcomm is the market leader in integrated GPS for handsets as well as running the SnapTrack services for operators and enterprises.
Gabriel added that there are public safety overtones to the patents in question, because the technology can be useful in tracking individuals and assets.
Qualcomm has been involved in long-running and controversial patent disputes with wireless chip rival Broadcom, which has gone through numerous arbitration decisions by both federal courts and the U.S. International Trade Commission, as well as against mobile phone maker Nokia.
Nokia set to pay Qualcomm $2.3bn in patent deal
Broadcom files suit against Qualcomm alleging "patent misuse"