Qualcomm top lawyer quits as Nokia legal battle looms

Qualcomm's top lawyer has left following a string of court defeats for the mobile technology vendor.

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Qualcomm's top lawyer has left following a string of court defeats for the mobile technology vendor.

Lou Lupin has resigned as executive vice president and general counsel, the company said in a statement yesterday (13 August). The announcement came just days after Qualcomm failed to overturn an import ban on new mobile phones into the US that use some of its chips and also was told it can not enforce some patents on video technology.

Qualcomm didn't refer to these developments in its statement, in which it said Lupin's work had greatly benefited the company. But the San Diego company's many legal battles have turned bloody recently. It is embroiled in complex intellectual-property disputes with both Nokia and phone-chip rival Broadcom.

Carol Lam, currently senior vice president and legal counsel, will serve as acting general counsel while Qualcomm searches nationwide for Lupin's replacement. Lam joined Qualcomm's legal team in February after serving as the US Attorney for the Southern District of California since 2002.

A large part of Qualcomm's business is based on licensing of its intellectual property. The company pioneered CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access), which forms the basis of most 3G technologies, and also holds a range of other patents. It has a reputation for jealously guarding its technologies and charging higher royalty rates than do other mobile equipment vendors, charges the company denies.

In June, the U.S. International Trade Commission ordered a ban on importation of new-model devices that use certain Qualcomm chips that were found to violate Broadcom patents.

Last Monday, the Bush administration declined a request to reverse that ban. Qualcomm is still appealing the ban in court. Also last week, in another Broadcom case a federal judge ruled that Qualcomm had improperly hid patents from the standards body in charge of the H.264 video standard. As part of its penalty, Qualcomm can't enforce those patents, the judge ruled.

Lupin joined Qualcomm in 1995 and became its general counsel in 2000.

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