Court Upholds Broadcom's Ban of Qualcomm Chips
In the latest of many legal setbacks for Qualcomm, a federal court has turned down the company's request to postpone an injunction against sales of some of its mobile-phone chips.
The injunction was ordered late last year after a lower court found that Qualcomm violated three Broadcom patents. Qualcomm is appealing the case and requested a stay of the injunction while it goes through that process. On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in Washington, D.C., rejected that request. As a result, the injunction is in immediate effect, according to Broadcom, although Qualcomm is allowed to keep selling certain infringing products until Jan. 31, 2009.
Cellular pioneer Qualcomm, based in San Diego, is embroiled in a series of legal disputes with Broadcom, a relative newcomer to the mobile processor market based in nearby Irvine, California. In this case, Broadcom sued Qualcomm in May 2005 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and won the case last May, when a jury awarded it US$19.6 million in damages. The district court judge entered the injunction on Dec. 31.
"We are gratified that the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected Qualcomm's motion for a stay, leaving in force the injunction against Qualcomm's infringement issued by the U.S. District Court in Santa Ana," Broadcom said in a statement attributed to David Dull, senior vice president of business affairs and general counsel.
"Although our motion for a stay was denied, the Federal Circuit has recognized the need for speedy resolution of the many issues raised by the verdict and remedy in this case, and has therefore granted Qualcomm's motion for an expedited schedule for briefings and oral argument," Qualcomm said in a statement.
According to Broadcom, the three patents cover technology for improved video performance in mobile phones, for accessing more than one network at a time and for "push-to-talk" capability. The push-to-talk technology is used in Qualcomm's QChat, a system Sprint Nextel is counting on to extend the walkie-talkie capability popularized on Nextel's legacy iDEN network to its larger CDMA (Code-Division Multiple Access) service.
Sprint had moved to intervene on Qualcomm's side in the district court but was turned down last August. On Tuesday, the appeals court rejected Sprint's appeal of that decision. The carrier filed its appeal too late, the appeals court said.