This has not been a good week for Qualcomm on the patent front. The company, which relies heavily on the patent system for its business model, is discovering that putting so much faith in patents can be a two-edged sword. It's already been covered that the President Bush refused to intervene
in the International Trade Commission's decision to bar the import
of next generation Qualcomm chips. However, as with many patent infringement fights, this battle is taking place on many fronts at once, with both sides suing each other
over various patent infringement claims (the so-called nuclear war that is bound to break out when companies view patents as nuclear stockpiling
). In one of the cases where Qualcomm charged Broadcom with infringement (rather than the other way around), a judge hasn't just sided with Broadcom, but has stated that Qualcomm waived its right to enforce the patents in question
by withholding info on the patents from a standards body. This type of behavior is becoming all too common
when patents and standards bodies mix -- and it's causing all sorts of problems in delaying, fracturing and generally killing technology standards that would be helpful in driving the market forward. For its part, Qualcomm claims it played by the rules, though, that's not saying it actually disclosed everything. Either way, it's yet another reminder that patents are very much a two-edged sword, and those who bet entire business models on patents need to recognize how it can backfire.