Tech Firm Must Face|Sham Patent Claim

     SAN JOSE (CN) – Singapore- and San Jose-based Avago Technologies must face claims that it filed sham litigation to try to monopolize parts of the transceivers market, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
     IPtronics, a Denmark semiconductor company that dissolved in 2013, claimed in court that Avago had the International Trade Commission investigate bogus charges that it had violated two Avago patents, and that the investigation resulted in IPtronics’ buyout by Mellanox Technologies.
     Mellanox’s Denmark subsidiary is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
     Avago sought the ITC investigation in 2013. The two companies had been litigating the patent claims since June 2010, U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman wrote in her Aug. 25 order refusing dismissal.
     IPtronics claims that by asking for the investigation Avago was acting “with the subjective intent to harm competition and gain monopoly power” in violation of antitrust law.
     Supporting its claim that the patent litigation was a sham, IPtronics said, Avago’s conduct with the ITC “resembled that of a party seeking to prolong a case rather than win it.”
     The complaint claimed that Avago had admitted to illegal practices during business meetings and settlement negotiations and has “engaged in a pattern of competition suppressing litigation asserting patent infringement against every one of the entities with which they have not otherwise collaborated.”
     Avago succeeded in pushing it out of the market, IPtronics said, because Avago’s original infringement lawsuit deterred companies from doing business with IPtronics, and the company was bought out for less than its true value.
     Avago sought dismissal, but Freeman found that IPtronics made plausible claims that Avago’s lawsuit was a sham.
     “It is enough at this stage that IPtronics has alleged that Avago filed a complaint based upon documents later admitted to be insufficient to prove infringement,” Freeman wrote. But “this is not to say that it is smooth sailing for IPtronics from this point forward,” she added.
     “However weak Avago may believe IPtronics’ claims to be on the merits, the complaint is well-pleaded and IPtronics must be afforded an opportunity to test its allegations of objective baselessness on the merits.”
     Neither side could be reached for comment Wednesday.

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