Qualcomm's run into plenty of trouble in its ongoing patent battles
with Broadcom, but the company finally received some minor good news. Back in August, we had noted that the appeals court that deals with patent issues had changed
the standard under which patent infringement is considered "willful" (and, thus, subject to triple damages). Before this, the standard had been fairly low, causing all sorts of silly things like firms forbiding
employees from looking at patents for fear that this makes the liable for willful infringement. However, the new higher standard is already making waves through the court system. For example, Qualcomm had already lost the court battle over patent infringement on some Broadcom patents -- and the ruling had said that Qualcomm was guilty of willful infringement, leading the judge to double the fine from the $19.6 million the jury suggested to $39.3 million. With the new standards in place, however, it's not clear if Qualcomm really is guilty of willful infringement and the judge is offering Broadcom a choice on how to proceed
. Either it can drop the claim that the infringement was willful -- or it can drop the original decision and start again. If Broadcom drops the willful part, then the ruling will stand, but the fine will be reduced. If Broadcom wants to push for the higher damages of willful infringement, it'll need to redo the entire trial and make sure the infringement lives up to the new willful standards.