Qualcomms tangled patent war with Nokia and Broadcom got more complicated Sept. 18 when the International Trade Commission announced an investigation into whether the San Diego chipmaker is violating patents held by Nokia of Finland.
The investigation follows a June 7 order by the ITC in a separate case banning the import of certain 3G phones containing Qualcomm chips. The ITC determined Qualcomm infringed on a power-saving patent held by Broadcom, but the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ordered a temporary stay of the ban on Sept. 13.
The new ITC probe will focus on Qualcomms baseband processor chips, RF chips, single chip solutions, base station processor chips, and chipsets and other products containing such chips. The chips are contained in 3G cell phones and network interface cards.
Nokia filed its complaint with the ITC on June 16. The decision to begin an investigation sends the matter to an ITC administrative judge, who will make an initial determination of whether Qualcomm violated the law.
To read more about the stay granted Qualcomm on the chip import ban, click here.
Qualcomm filed its own patent infringement complaint against Nokia with the ITC in 2006. The ITC has not made a determination in the case. The two companies are also trading patent infringement claims against each other in courts from California to Texas.
The legal battle between Qualcomm and Nokia escalated after a cross-licensing deal between the two companies expired in April. The two companies have been unable to agree on royalty terms for each others technology.
Broadcom and Qualcomm are equally engaged in legal wrangling over patents. In May, a Santa Ana, Calif., federal jury ordered Qualcomm to pay $19.6 million for willfully infringing on three Broadcom patents. The presiding judge then doubled the award and ordered Qualcomm to pay Broadcoms legal fees in the case. A decision on Broadcoms request for a permanent injunction on products using the three patents is expected later this month.
A U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 4 ordered an antitrust case brought by Broadcom against Qualcomm to proceed in a New Jersey district court. Broadcom originally filed the case on July 1, 2005, claiming Qualcomm violated U.S. antitrust laws by manipulating the standards-setting process and failing to license third-generation cellular technology in a fair and nondiscriminatory manner. The district court dismissed the case on Sept. 1, 2006, and Broadcom promptly appealed the decision.
"We are pleased that we will get our day in court and will have the opportunity to show how Qualcomms conduct violates our nations antitrust laws," David A. Dull, general counsel for Broadcom, based in Irvine, Calif., said in a statement. "We have already seen a finding of standards abuse against Qualcomm in a patent case in San Diego federal court, and are optimistic that we will prevail in New Jersey as well."
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