ITC Hears Broadcom-Qualcomm Patent Spat

The U.S. International Trade Commission begins proceedings to hear Broadcom's claim that Qualcomm engaged in unfair business practices by importing wireless chip sets from outside the United States.

The United States International Trade Commission has begun proceedings for its hearings in a patent dispute between communications chip maker Broadcom and Code Division Multiple Access specialist Qualcomm.

The hearing, conducted before ITC Administrative Law Judge Charles E. Bullock, will consider whether or not Qualcomm engaged in unfair business practices by importing wireless device chips and chip sets from outside the United States that Broadcom contends infringed on one or more of its patents.

Broadcom maintains that Qualcomm, with which it has previously cross-licensed numerous technologies, infringed on three separate patents by importing the components, including holdings covering baseband processor chips and transmitter/receiver radio chips.

The claim also includes power control chips that comprise Qualcomms core suite of multimedia, enhanced and convergence handset platforms.

Throughout the proceedings Qualcomm has denied any wrongdoing and pledged to appeal all of the patent claims brought by Broadcom in front of the ITC.

Earlier in February, a federal district court in California permanently barred Broadcom from prosecuting several additional patent infringement claims against Qualcomm before the ITC, ruling that the dispute must be resolved under the courts own jurisdiction in San Diego.

The judge presiding over those claims ruled that the issues must be settled in that jurisdiction based on the terms of a licensing agreement between the two firms.

In its complaint, Broadcom is seeking a permanent injunction barring Qualcomm from importing the chips in question, as well as third-party handsets or other products that use the components. The chip maker is also requesting a cease-and-desist order barring Qualcomm from selling any infringing products already brought into the country.

The remedy phase of the ITC proceeding will be heard in July 2006, with the target date for completion of the investigation set for December 2006.

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Broadcom currently has some 18 different patent claims filed against Qualcomm in front of the ITC and various federal courts. In February 2007 the U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, Calif., is scheduled to try Broadcoms claims of alleged infringement on five individual patents by Qualcomm, with the other dispute still pending in the San Diego courts.

Following the conclusion of the ITC proceedings, Broadcom said it will also seek to contend the three patent claims in front of the commission in the Santa Ana, Calif., District Court.

Broadcom has filed an antitrust suit against Qualcomm in the U.S. District Court in Trenton, N. J., and has joined five other mobile wireless technology companies in filing complaints with the European Commission alleging that Qualcomm has engaged in anti-competitive conduct. Those claims also revolve around claims related to Qualcomms wireless handset chips and chip sets.

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