Qualcomm Attorneys Announce Plans for New Summer Home
Bet that $6-per-handset settlement Broadcom offered Qualcomm back in June is looking pretty good to the chip-maker right now. Yesterday, the Bush administration let stand the International Trade Commission ban on the import of devices using Qualcomm chips found to infringe on Broadcom patents.
“After extensive review, DHS [Department of Homeland Security] has advised that it does not believe there are public-safety risks sufficient to justify disapproval of the USITC’s limited exclusion order,” U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab wrote in her decision. “DHS has also advised that Broadcom Corporation’s offer of royalty-free public-safety licensing to state and local public safety organizations and its licensing agreements with two major wireless carriers will ameliorate to a significant degree concerns regarding the order’s potential effect on public-safety wireless broadband systems and 3G network deployment. We also understand that other market participants are investigating the use of a noninfringing software workaround. We believe that such licensing agreements and workarounds will address in large part the concerns raised about delay in 3G network deployment.”
Quite a nasty turn of events for Qualcomm. The company had lobbied–fiercely–for White House intervention to reverse the ITC ruling, arguing that allowing it to remain would harm consumers, telecom carriers and handset makers. But the administration apparently didn’t buy it, and without the sort of deus ex machina it could have offered, Qualcomm is nearly out of options. It is facing an immediate ban on all forthcoming handsets running its WCDMA and EVDO chips–a potentially devastating blow to the company’s hugely important chip IP licensing business.
“If I’m one of Qualcomm’s customers, I’m furious,” Gartner analyst Michael King told the Associated Press. “My product line has the potential to be disrupted. The merits of the case notwithstanding, the fact they let it get this far is going to be somewhat unconscionable to their customers.”
Qualcomm, which is working on a software workaround to avoid any infringement on the Broadcom technology in question, is pursuing a stay of the ITC ban. Third time’s a charm, right?