Qualcomm's Small Patent Victories

from the it's-something dept

Qualcomm has always been a strong supporter of the patent system, as it was the basis for much of its revenue over the past decade. However, lately, the company has been getting hit left and right by patent lawsuits against it. Last week, though, the company ended up with a few minor (and perhaps temporary) victories against opponents. First, the International Trade Commission tossed out a complaint from Nokia asking the ITC to ban the import of Qualcomm chips. Nokia had simply taken a page from Broadcom, who had successfully used the ITC loophole to get a second shot at Qualcomm over its patents. Given how often companies have been starting to use this loophole, it's nice to see that the ITC doesn't always rollover for patent holders.

In the meantime, speaking of Broadcom, we had noted last month that thanks to a Supreme Court ruling that raised the bar for declaring "willful" infringement of a patent, the judge in the Qualcomm-Broadcom suit had given Broadcom a choice. Either retry the case under the new rules, or drop the "willful" part and get less money from Qualcomm. Broadcom has now chosen the latter option, and will accept a smaller payout from Qualcomm for infringement. Of course, it's not all good news for Qualcomm. Nokia still has lawsuits going against Qualcomm, with one getting underway in the UK this week. Broadcom is still seeking the courts to rule for an injunction blocking the import of certain Qualcomm chips as well (even as the ITC is already helping out on that front). Once again, no one seems willing to explain why Broadcom gets to take two whacks at Qualcomm over the same exact issue. In the meantime, while it would be nice to think that these recent messy lawsuits would give Qualcomm a chance to rethink some of its beliefs about the patent system, somehow that seems unlikely to happen any time soon.
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Filed Under: itc, patents
Companies: broadcom, nokia, qualcomm


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  1. identicon
    Maxwell Smart, 26 Nov 2007 @ 12:50pm

    The old...

    Given how often companies have been starting to use this loophole, it's nice to see that the ITC doesn't always rollover for patent holders.
    The old "selective enforcement" bit I see. That'll teach Nokia which palms to grease in the future!

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2007 @ 12:58pm

    Re: The old...

    Qualcomm is a US company and Nokia is Finnish, so could the ITC's action be seen as discriminatory and protectionist? I wonder if Nokia would have a case if they took it to the World Trade Commission?

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

  3. identicon
    Shun, 26 Nov 2007 @ 5:14pm

    How to enforce International Law?

    Someone a while back pointed out to me that International Law is literally unenforcible. You have to get countries to agree to binding sets of rules. Unfortunately, as we have seen in the past few years, countries like to get out of these agreements.

    In this case, how does one enforce? The Antigua/gambling issue has been on the back burner for ages. When is anyone going to do anything about it? Qualcomm/Broadcom/Nokia is really just the tip of the iceberg.

    There is no uniform venue for hashing out trade disputes. There is no court which all the parties respect where the decision is honored, the decisions are considered fair, and there are sanctions for not obeying the decisions of the court. Even the ICC has charges leveled against it, claiming that it's one-sided.

    So, in the face of all of this non-cooperative behavior, how does international trade get accomplished? By accident?

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Nov 2007 @ 1:42pm

    Re: How to enforce International Law?

    Someone a while back pointed out to me that International Law is literally unenforcible.
    They were wrong. International laws are ultimately enforceable the same way as other laws: by force. Recall, for example, that the Bush administration used the claim of illegal weapons of mass destruction as justification for using military force against Iraq. Like other cops however, superpower nations rarely enforce the law against themselves.

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


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