Just last week we noted that patent holders were increasingly getting two cracks at companies they felt were infringing by going to the US International Trade Commission and asking them to ban the import of products that infringe on their patents. The US ITC has no obligation (as the courts do) to look at the obviousness of the patents or whether or not the patents are valid. They can just ban the importation of the patent entirely. Effectively it gives companies two separate routes to beat up on those they accuse of infringing -- with this loophole method having even less recourse than the courts. So, it should come as no surprise that while Qualcomm and Broadcom have been fighting it out in the courts over patent infringement, the US ITC has now banned the import of any new models of phones using Qualcomm's 3G chips. In other words, Qualcomm is going to be forced to settle. This is seen as a "compromise" because the ITC resisted banning existing phones with 3G technology -- but all that really means is that Qualcomm has a slightly longer window of time to reach a settlement with Broadcom.
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