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Trouble for the big dog

Qualcomm thrown bone of contention regarding pet-tracking patents

Telepet's Pet Detective notifies you within two minutes of your dog escaping.
Telepet's Pet Detective notifies you within two minutes of your dog escaping.

San Diego–based tech giant Qualcomm stands accused of defrauding the owner of patents related to GPS-aided pet-trackers it produces under a subsidiary, according to a lawsuit filed last week in a Nevada federal court.

In the complaint, Telepet USA says it obtained two patents for GPS pet-tracking technology in 2008 and 2011. In between these issuances, the company says it received an unsolicited offer from Snaptracs, which shares the Sorrento Valley corporate headquarters of parent Qualcomm, to develop, market, and sell such a device.

Snaptracs in 2011 began selling the Tagg, a device Telepet says infringes on one or both of their patents. Upon confronting the company, Telepet says Qualcomm offered several "business arrangements" including purchase of the patents or a stake in Telepet, or payment of a licensing fee.

Telepet rejected all of these offers, instead filing a patent-infringement complaint in January 2013 that was settled that June with a plan of entering into a licensing agreement with Snaptracs, which had already brought the devices to market.

Now, the patent holder says Qualcomm made "material misrepresentations" and "withheld material facts" in negotiating the settlement that allowed the company to continue using the technology. Telepet is seeking revocation of the licensing agreement as well as punitive damages and other costs.

The suit is the latest bad news to hit the ailing local tech firm, which has already been hit by depressed earnings in the wake of a decision by mobile-phone giant Samsung to discontinue the use of the Snapdragon chip in its latest round of Galaxy smartphones.

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Telepet's Pet Detective notifies you within two minutes of your dog escaping.
Telepet's Pet Detective notifies you within two minutes of your dog escaping.

San Diego–based tech giant Qualcomm stands accused of defrauding the owner of patents related to GPS-aided pet-trackers it produces under a subsidiary, according to a lawsuit filed last week in a Nevada federal court.

In the complaint, Telepet USA says it obtained two patents for GPS pet-tracking technology in 2008 and 2011. In between these issuances, the company says it received an unsolicited offer from Snaptracs, which shares the Sorrento Valley corporate headquarters of parent Qualcomm, to develop, market, and sell such a device.

Snaptracs in 2011 began selling the Tagg, a device Telepet says infringes on one or both of their patents. Upon confronting the company, Telepet says Qualcomm offered several "business arrangements" including purchase of the patents or a stake in Telepet, or payment of a licensing fee.

Telepet rejected all of these offers, instead filing a patent-infringement complaint in January 2013 that was settled that June with a plan of entering into a licensing agreement with Snaptracs, which had already brought the devices to market.

Now, the patent holder says Qualcomm made "material misrepresentations" and "withheld material facts" in negotiating the settlement that allowed the company to continue using the technology. Telepet is seeking revocation of the licensing agreement as well as punitive damages and other costs.

The suit is the latest bad news to hit the ailing local tech firm, which has already been hit by depressed earnings in the wake of a decision by mobile-phone giant Samsung to discontinue the use of the Snapdragon chip in its latest round of Galaxy smartphones.

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