Qualcomm v. Lawyers: Let's Get It On!

Things are getting really ugly in what has turned into a grudge match discovery dispute between Qualcomm and the company's outside lawyers.

I wrote recently about the impressive sanctions handed down by a magistrate judge against Qualcomm and its outside counsel after they failed to turn over hundreds of thousands of documents in patent litigation.  Qualcomm's lawyers sought to defend themselves at the sanctions hearing by pointing the finger at Qualcomm's failures in the discovery process.  However, the magistrate judge ruled that they were prevented from doing so by the attorney client privilege.

The federal district court has reversed that ruling.  Four Qualcomm employees had filed declarations with the court that tended to exonerate Qualcomm while placing the blame on the shoulders of outside counsel.  Specifically, Qualcomm alleged that its lawyers had failed to ask Qualcomm for discoverable documents, had inadequately prepared witnesses for deposition and had failed to advise Qualcomm employees of the company's defenses prior to their testimony at trial. 

Because of the introduction of "accusatory adversity" between Qualcomm and its counsel, the district court ruled that the self defense exception to the attorney client privilege should apply.  So, it looks as though the lawyers will get to tell their side of the story.  It'll be interesting to hear what they have to say.