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ITC enforces ban on some phones with Qualcomm chips

Posted: 11 Jun 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Broadcom Qualcomm suit? patent infringement? ITC chip ban?

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has imposed a partial ban on shipments of mobile phones that contain Qualcomm chips, an order that will have an impact on major wireless carriers.

Paul Jacobs, the embattled company's CEO, said Qualcomm plans to seek an emergency stay from a federal appeals court and ask U.S. President George Bush to veto the ITC's decision.

"While there is no immediate disruption to Qualcomm's ability to import chips, this decision does immediately affect third parties who were not even permitted to appear in the infringement proceeding," said Jacobs in a statement. "We believe the Commission has not afforded manufacturers and operators, who will bear the brunt of this order, an adequate opportunity to defend their interests."

The ITC action stems from an ongoing patent dispute between Qualcomm and rival Broadcom Corp. In May, a federal court jury in California found that Qualcomm had infringed on three Broadcom patents, and awarded the latter company $19.6 million.

The ITC order bars the importation of new handsets or PDAs that contain Qualcomm chips and chipsets that are used in connecting devices to 3G high-speed networks used to deliver data services, such as video, music and Web access.

The Commission voted, 3-2, in favor of the ban, which followed the ITC's previous ruling that certain Qualcomm chips were imported into the United States in violation of federal laws protecting intellectual property. The ban does not apply to handsets and handheld computers that are of the same models as devices imported into the U.S. before the June 7 order.

The Commission's order goes into effect in 60 days, unless President Bush issues a veto. The ban is expected to affect advanced cellphones sold by Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA.

Qualcomm and Broadcom have been engaged in acrimonious legal exchanges for several months over patents for mobile phones. Broadcom claims it is protecting its financial investment in its IP, while Qualcomm has countered that Broadcom purchased the patents at issue in the case.

- Antone Gonsalves

With additional reporting by Elizabeth Valdezco, EE Times-Asia

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