Judge Dismisses Suit Against Qualcomm

A federal judge in San Diego dismissed a consumer class-action lawsuit alleging antitrust violations and unfair competition by Qualcomm, the company announced Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge William Q. Hayes on Monday rejected arguments raised by plaintiff Christopher Lorenzo and affirmed a prior ruling that he lacked standing to bring antitrust claims, according to the San Diego-based firm.

The judge affirmed that the allegations in the complaint did not give the plaintiff any right to compensation from Qualcomm under California's unfair competition law, according to Qualcomm.

The class-action complaint, filed last year, alleged that Qualcomm exercises "monopoly power" over cell phones using CDMA technology and that it engages in various acts that decrease competition and increase costs to consumers.

Lorenzo claimed he was harmed by Qualcomm's "anti-competitive CDMA licensing practices" in his purchase of a Palm Treo and a Blackberry Curve sold by Verizon, which was not a named defendant.

The plaintiff maintained that he need not be a direct consumer or competitor to bring the antitrust claims against Qualcomm because indirect purchasers have standing to bring a claim under both federal and state laws.

Increased consumer prices for CDMA-capable cellular handset devices "were a direct and foreseeable result of Qualcomm's anti-competitive licensing practices," he alleged.

He claimed he suffered an antitrust injury because "the impact on the prices of cellular handsets paid for by the ultimate consumers is clearly foreseeable" and "injury in the form of higher prices to consumers is within the type of injury that the antitrust laws are designed to protect."

Hayes disagreed, noting that the class-action complaint centered on Qualcomm's alleged anti-competitive CDMA licensing practices.

According to his ruling, the plaintiff's status as an indirect purchaser was "too remote from Qualcomm's alleged antitrust violations to support standing."