Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Broadcom Uses Patent Loophole To Ban Qualcomm-Powered Phones

from the two-shots dept

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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2007 @ 9:23am

    So wait. If I am currently working overseas in the military and buy a cell phone, can I bring it back to the US when I come home?

    Could I buy a bunch?

    Is this what I am really fighting for?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    angry dude, Jun 8th, 2007 @ 9:35am

    Relax, dude

    You can buy a bunch of those phones and bring them back..
    You can even sell them all on EBay
    Nobody will give a shit
    Just don't open a store selling those phones here

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Joe Smith, Jun 8th, 2007 @ 10:46am


    And if Qualcomm wins the patent litigation and the patents turn out never to have been valid who is going to reach into their pockets and pay Qualcomm and its shareholders the billions of dollars this may cost them - the Judges at the ITC perhaps?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Jacob Buck, Jun 8th, 2007 @ 10:57am


    You're obviously not fighting for anything if your biggest worry is bringing a cell phone home loser.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Bacob Juck, Jun 8th, 2007 @ 12:24pm

    To Jacob Buck

    Dudes like that guy who volunteer for the sh*t can bring back any phone they want, as well as worry about whatever they want, no matter how small or insignificant to you. So, how about getting on Deez Nutz, Buck? *humpa* *humpa*

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Rick, Jun 8th, 2007 @ 12:49pm

    Free market? HA

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Wolfman-K, Jun 8th, 2007 @ 12:53pm

    Qualcomm ban

    Wow, this is a hell of a loophole. Qualcomm has no recourse, and this is going to hurt a whole lot of US companies, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint... not to mention to the wholesalers, retailers, kids summer jobs.

    Man Broadcom, think before you act. Are you this selfish, or just stupid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Broadcom Rep, Jun 8th, 2007 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Qualcomm ban

    A little of Column A, A little of Column B. I want money, but I didn't care to think how this might effect anything. After all, if the US Gov. is OK with it, than why is it a problem?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Shun, Jun 8th, 2007 @ 3:17pm

    ITC has no legitimacy?

    It's not Broadcom's fault that the ITC exists. They are taking advantage of an existing regulator to attack a competitor. Also, they are using the ruling to put themselves in a better bargaining position vis-a-vis licensing their tech to Qualcomm. In the end, it is in neither companies' interest to deadlock. Qualcomm needs to ship chips, and Broadcom wants royalties. If the Patent Office rules that the tech is property of Broadcom, shouldn't they get their cut? If you feel that Broadcom doesn't deserve it, then I challenge you to create for free. I am sure you are noble enough to understand that getting paid to invent is petty and greedy. Ideas are the property of all of humankind, etc. I and my free-rider colleagues thank you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    anon, Jun 9th, 2007 @ 10:04am

    it should be regulated

    It's pretty sad that they have loopholes like this. It should be regulated by the patent office just like it has always been. I hate to see technology get hit by ghetto loop holes that hurt companies. In the end if Qualcomm owes them money so be it but patch up this watery hole and move on without the money rapage.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Cleverboy, Jun 10th, 2007 @ 2:16am

    So, I guess Apple wins, eh?

    Well, regarding the iPhone, I suppose this would be the definition of "hollow victory" if all of its rival network CDMA-based 3G "new releases" get clotheslined at the starting gate. I doubt Apple will complain regardless.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    R Kent, Jun 11th, 2007 @ 10:55am

    Who wrote this article? Qualcomm?

    They forgot to mention that the courts already ruled that the patent is valid and that qualcomm infringed. They forget to say that Broadcom also won a case in Santa Ana that found Qualcomm WILLFULL infringement on three Broadcom
    patents (Broadcom will also nailed them on these patents shortly). Also, they forget to mention that qualcomm illegally kept 35,000 e-mails in their Santa Ana court loss against Broadcom and now will have to pay Broadcom legal costs.
    Finally, they forget to mention that qualcomm is also in court for illegally manipulating the standard setting organizations. They fill the standard setting organizations with people on their payroll, but don't disclose it.
    Qualcomm's royalties as we know it are history.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    3G cell phone user, Jun 23rd, 2007 @ 3:36pm

    Want new cell phones

    It seems that the biggest loser is 3G cell phone users. If we have no new cell phones to use in future, can Broadcom's patent produce 3G cell phones for us? I don't care if Broadcom is using this lawsuit for unfair competition. I just want to have new cell phones when my current cell phone contract ends next year. B company, please don't be selfish.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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