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January 30, 2024
The legal saga between Comcast and chipmaker MaxLinear has taken another turn as the cable operator filed motions recently asking a New York district court to toss out the chipmaker's counterclaims that the cable operator misappropriated its Full Duplex (FDX) DOCSIS ideas and then hired a competitor – Broadcom – to commercialize them.
FDX technology is a key component of Comcast's DOCSIS 4.0 rollout. Comcast denied MaxLinear's accusations, claiming that its FDX technology was "independently created."
MaxLinear filed its counterclaims and a demand for a jury trial on December 1, 2023, in response to a Comcast lawsuit accusing MaxLinear of breaching a pair of service-related agreements for millions of cable modems powered by MaxLinear silicon, including one agreement that includes an important no-sue clause.
In a January 26 motion urging the court to strike MaxLinear's counterclaims, Comcast argued that an FDX-related non-disclosure agreement (NDA) signed in July 2020 contains a passage in which MaxLinear effectively waived its right to a trial by jury, which is what MaxLinear is asking for in its recent counterclaims.
That "enforceable jury waiver," Comcast told the court, is contained in the NDA in all-caps, reading: "EACH OF THE PARTIES HEREBY WAIVES TRIAL BY JURY IN ANY ACTION OR LEGAL PROCEEDING RELATING TO OR ARISING OUT OF THIS AGREEMENT OR THE TRANSACTIONS CONTEMPLATED HEREBY."
"MaxLinear knowingly and intentionally waived its right to a jury on those Counterclaims. Comcast thus respectfully requests that the Court strike MaxLinear’s demand," Comcast added.
Comcast says counterclaims compare apples and oranges
Comcast also argued that MaxLinear's counterclaims should be severed because they are based on different facts and involve different witnesses and evidence than Comcast's original claims centering on two support services agreements: a Vendor Support Agreement (VSA) and Statement of Work (SOW), which are related to updates and the technical upkeep of millions of DOCSIS cable modems that contain MaxLinear chips.
Comcast believes that MaxLinear attempted to scuttle those agreements in May 2023 to effectively undo the no-sue clause, clearing another entity, Entropic Communications LLC, to move ahead with a patent lawsuit against Comcast. Entropic, a patent-holding non-practicing entity, acquired a portfolio of patents from MaxLinear related to Multimedia over Coax Alliance technology in early 2021.
"None of it [MaxLinear's counterclaims] bears any relation to Comcast's first-filed claims," Comcast stated.
Comcast also argues that MaxLinear's counterclaims are an "afterthought" and "belatedly brought in retaliation" to delay Comcast's case against the chipmaker.
"Had MaxLinear truly believed Comcast improperly disclosed its trade secrets and that such disclosure caused it material harm, it would have raised its claims long ago," Comcast said.
Severing the counterclaims, the operator added, will help to accelerate the resolution of Comcast's claims against MaxLinear.
Senior Editor, Light Reading
Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.
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