Friday, January 04, 2008

Qualcomm hit with patent infringement injunction

A US Federal District Judge issued an injunction today against wireless giant Qualcomm, ruling that "certain of its products" for the US market infringe three Broadcom patents.

"We are very pleased with today's ruling which addresses Qualcomm's improper use of our patented technology covering cellular chips and software for advanced consumer devices," said David A. Dull, Broadcom's senior vice president and general counsel.

"Broadcom should not have to compete against companies that use Broadcom's own patented technology against us, and this injunction puts a stop to Qualcomm doing just that."

Qualcomm said that the ruling from Judge James V. Selna is "complex", and that it expects further clarification from the court on various aspects of the judgment, including the effect of Verizon's existing licence agreement with Broadcom.

The ruling provides a 'sunset' provision that stays the order until 31 January 2009 for QChat and 1x/EV-DO products that were found to infringe any of the three patents by providing Qualcomm a limited licence, subject to an ongoing royalty payment.

This licence is limited to products sold to customers on or before the jury verdict was delivered on 29 May 2007.

The '010 and '317 patents apply only to Qualcomm's QChat and 1x/EV-DO products. Qualcomm said that it is continuing the development of "workaround solutions" for the '010 and '317 patents.

"The order imposes an immediate injunction on WCDMA products for the US market that were found to infringe the '686 video encoding patent," Qualcomm stated.

"Qualcomm today announced the availability of new chips that have already been sampled to customers and expects to have hardware and software workarounds to the '686 patent commercially available in handsets before the end of the first calendar quarter of 2008."

The company added that it will attempt to obtain "further relief and clarity " from the courts on certain aspects of the order.

However, Qualcomm warned that the inability to obtain such relief will probably have an immediate, short-term impact as handset customers transition to new designs for WCDMA products relating to the '686 patent.

The ruling will also have a medium-term impact to certain products in the development pipeline for the US market, and longer-term ability to implement workarounds in time for commercial availability of handsets by the January 2009 'sunset' expiration.

"Qualcomm is evaluating all its options, including seeking appropriate stays and appeals, and will comply with all directives and orders of the court," the company said.

"The US Patent Office has also instituted a re-examination of the validity of the '317 patent claims."

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