March 21, 2007, 3:58 PM — Broadcom Corp. officials called on the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to ban the import of mobile phones containing high-speed Qualcomm Inc. processors because of patent infringement.
Any patent remedy that does not ban imports of mobile handsets with Qualcomm multimode chips using two 3G (third-generation) wireless data standards would reward the company for patent infringement, Broadcom argued Wednesday during a rare patent-infringement hearing before the ITC. Broadcom "should not have to compete against companies that use our own patented technologies against us," said Scott McGregor, Broadcom's president and CEO.
The Broadcom proposal, supported by the ITC's Office of Unfair Import Investigations, would ban the import of mobile handsets containing Qualcomm chips using the WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) and EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized) broadband standards. Broadcom is not asking the ITC to ban smartphones, PDAs (personal digital assistants) or laptop cards using the WCDMA or EV-DO standards.
As the hearing continues Wednesday and Thursday, Qualcomm, mobile handset makers and mobile carriers, including Verizon Wireless Inc. and Sprint Nextel Corp., are expected to ask the ITC to reject Broadcom's proposed penalty, arguing the impact on the mobile-phone business would be huge.
U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, also questioned the proposed penalty, saying it could hurt mobile customers. "I am concerned that the proposed exclusion of mobile handsets with EV-DO technology would cause significant harm to U.S. consumers by limiting competition in the mobile broadband services market and threatening the widespread adoption of mobile broadband services," he said.
The argument that the ITC shouldn't approve the remedy because of the impact on the mobile-phone industry doesn't make sense, McGregor said. "An effective remedy is not one that allows all, or nearly all, of the ongoing infringement to continue unabated," he said. "The fact that infringement is widespread should not preclude Broadcom from obtaining an effective remedy."
At issue is Broadcom's patent on a mobile-chip feature that saves battery life when a mobile device cannot find a wireless signal. Virtually all mobile phones with EV-DO or WCDMA capabilities include the patented technology, Broadcom officials said. In October, an ITC administrative law judge entered an initial judgement that Qualcomm had violated parts of the Broadcom patent.
The two companies have been wrangling over patents since May 2005, when Broadcom filed two lawsuits in a California court alleging that Qualcomm had infringed 10 of its patents. Earlier this month, the companies settled two of Broadcom's patent claims, and in February, they each agreed to drop two patent claims against each other.