ITC Stands By Qualcomm Chip Import Ban

The International Trade Commission (ITC) has denied Qualcomm’s motion to stay an ITC order banning the import of future models of 3G mobile broadband handsets containing Qualcomm chipsets and software.

The U.S. import ban follows a December 2006 ITC ruling that found the San Diego-based Qualcomm’s cellular chips and software infringe on a Broadcom patent related to power-saving technology. The ban does not apply to existing handheld wireless communications devices that were being imported for sale to the general public on or before June 7.

The stay denial does not close all of Qualcomm’s options in the complicated case. The ban order, issued on June 7, is subject to presidential review for 60 days. Qualcomm has already said it will ask President Bush to veto the ITC decision.

“The ITC constructed a balanced compromise remedy following months of exhaustive study, mountains of evidence and two days of hearings,” David A.
Dull, Broadcom’s senior vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile USA all use Qualcomm chips in their imported handsets. The ITC said that while the ban on handsets would “impose great burdens” on third parties, a ban on only the Qualcomm chips and chipsets would provide little relief for Broadcom.

Allowing companies to continue importing previously imported models, the ITC said, would reduce the burdens on third parties.

“As we have said before, Broadcom simply wants to be adequately compensated for the use of our intellectual property and to be able to compete fairly in the cellular markets on the merits and innovation of our products and technologies,” Dull said. ‘[Qualcomm] refuses to provide appropriate compensation for the use of our intellectual property.”

The ITC case is part of a larger legal battle between Broadcom and Qualcomm .

In May, a Santa Ana, Calif., district court found Qualcomm guilty of willful infringement of three different Broadcom patents. The jury awarded Broadcom $19.6 million in damages, which may be trebled since the infringement was ruled intentional.

Earlier this year, a San Diego jury rejected Qualcomm’s claims that Broadcom infringed on two Qualcomm patents involving video compression. In another lawsuit between the two companies, Broadcom claims Qualcomm has engaged in a “pattern of misconduct” across multiple technologies and through various standards bodies.

“The protection of intellectual property is essential to American competitiveness and innovation in global markets, particularly in this age of advanced technology and huge worldwide consumer demand for electronic devices and equipment,” Dull said. “So far, Qualcomm has been found to infringe four different Broadcom patents.”

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