Qualcomm's lawyers face sanctions

US chipmaker Qualcomm dueled in federal court with its hired attorneys over who shoulders the blame for what a judge called 'gross misconduct on a massive scale' at a past trial, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said US Magistrate Judge Barbara Major is considering sanctions against 19 attorneys who represented Qualcomm in a patent lawsuit the cell phone chipmaker filed against rival Broadcom.

The possibility of sanctions has threatened the careers of attorneys from two Silicon Valley firms and prolonged a damaging episode for Qualcomm, the Associated Press report said.

The company's legal activity has helped it become the world's second-largest chipmaker for cell phones, the report said.

The judge said she was struggling to understand how Qualcomm and its lawyers committed 'the fundamental and monumental error' of failing to share more than 200,000 pages of documents with Broadcom until after trial, according to the report.

Neither lawyers for Qualcomm nor the 19 attorneys it hired, and is now arguing with, had clear answers, the report said.

The Associated Press report quoted Joel Zeldin, an attorney for 11 of the lawyers, as saying that Qualcomm hamstrung his defense by deciding to keep its communications with its attorneys confidential.

Zeldin said court filings by several Qualcomm employees suggested his clients failed to do their job.

Qualcomm attorney William Boggs defended the San Diego-based company's decision to prevent disclosure of privileged communications with the hired lawyers, and he urged the judge not to fine them, the report said.

In statements filed with court this week, the lawyers said they never sought to mislead anyone, the report said.