What happened to Qualcomm wasn't the first case of e-discovery gone wrong - but it might have been the most incredible. For months leading up to a January 2007 patent infringement trial, two California-based technology companies, Qualcomm Inc. and Broadcom Corp., had been locked in a nasty battle over document production.
At issue was whether Qualcomm had participated in an industry group, called the Joint Video Team (JVT) that had been working on a new standard for digital video compression - and whether there were any e-mails, memos or other correspondence that said so.

In the view of the judges, the unfound documents destroyed Qualcomm's case - and they should have been very easy to find. Indeed, the judge who presided over the suit, Senior Federal District Court Judge Rudi Brewster of San Diego, ruled that Qualcomm had engaged in "constant stonewalling, concealment and repeated misrepresentation concerning existing corporate documentary evidence." He ordered the company to pay Broadcom's legal fees and costs - some $9.26 million, including post-verdict interest - ruled that the two Qualcomm patents were unenforceable, and referred the matter for possible disciplinary procedures.

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