Thursday, September 25, 2008

Press reports on Qualcomm loss to Broadcomm at CAFC

Recalling that Jaffe and Lerner praised Qualcomm for its proper use of patents, one finds discussions of Qualcomm's loss at the CAFC on 24 Sept 08 to be of interest. Bloomberg noted:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington on Sept. 24 upheld a lower court decision that Qualcomm infringed a Broadcom patent on the technology [QChat push- to-talk technology]. It affirmed an infringement finding on another Broadcom patent for a method used to allow mobile phones to operate on multiple wireless networks. The court also overturned a jury verdict against San Diego-based Qualcomm finding it infringed a patent for video compression.

"We have continued to develop workarounds related to the patents related to QChat," Qualcomm attorney Alex Rogers said, adding that the company is reviewing the ruling and has been seeking technology that would allow it to continue operations.

Sprint is a loser in this also. Bloomberg noted:

Qualcomm claimed it helped Sprint without knowing Broadcom had patented a feature that uses a phone's Internet connection to deliver quick voice messages without a dial tone. Verizon Wireless is also developing its own walkie-talkie feature.

Of course, in the patent infringement business, intent is not an element of the "crime." Infringement is strict liability. Separately, the Bloomberg piece did not get into elements of willful infringement or inducement to infringe. The Bloomberg piece did allude to an earlier CAFC decision in a different Qualcomm/Broadcom case, reviving a claim involving a patent for transmitting radiofrequency signals.

CNN Money reported:

A Washington, D.C., federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld a permanent injunction that bars chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) from selling certain third-generation cellphone chips because they infringe two patents held by rival Broadcom Corp. (BRCM).

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that Qualcomm's popular walkie-talkie feature infringed one Broadcom patent, and it found that Qualcomm also infringed a Broadcom patent involving technology that allows cellphones to participate on multiple wireless networks.

The San Diego Union Tribune got into other aspects. Qualcomm had been saying they expected to win on appeal BUT they replaced the technology on the ONLY PART of the case they did win [!]:

Qualcomm had said several times that it was optimistic that its appeals would prevail.

“Obviously, we're disappointed with the rulings that were upheld and pleased with one that was overturned,” Qualcomm attorney Alex Rogers said.

The effect of the decision is to keep in place a deadline that gives Qualcomm until the end of January to stop selling the QChat and multiple network technologies.

The infringement that was overturned was not part of the sunset period and has already been replaced Rogers said.

Returning to the opening sentence of this post, the outcome of this case is further evidence of how totally clueless Jaffe and Lerner are about the patent system. Innovation and its Discontents can be hazardous to your patent health.


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