Qualcomm vs Broadcom - Litigation or
Last week, the US International Trade
Commission (ITC) banned the importation of 3G handsets
containing chipsets from Qualcomm into the United
States, due to a long-running patent dispute with Broadcom.
The details of the case are complex
- and we are Mobile Gazette are not lawyers
(our lawyers told us to say that) - but this is the
latest in a series of long-running disputes between
technology firms that threatens to derail developments
in mobile communications.
In this particular case, mobile phones
containing 3G chips designed by Qualcomm can no longer
be imported into the US - this mainly impacts Motorola,
LG and Samsung.
Although 3G is still a very small market
segment in the US, it's a growth area that Motorola
(in particular) has pinned its hopes on. And because
Motorola is the market leader in the United States,
it's quite possible that it will have the most to lose
out of this ban.
Other manufacturers do not appear to
have a problem - in particular Nokia (who don't use
the chipsets in question) may be able to gain some crucial
market share in this particular niche.
According to a US federal jury, Qualcomm
did indeed break some of Broadcom's patents. But this
is the latest in a ridiculously long series of lawsuits
involving Qualcomm and Nokia,
plus others. Nokia in particular is involved in several
lawsuits and counter-suits over various technologies
in a bitter fight that might shape the future of 3G
One of the most famous mobile patent
disputes in recent times was NTP vs
RIM which was settled for a cool $612 million..
but in a deal that save the BlackBerry from extinction
stateside. With sums of money this large at stake, is
it any wonder that companies are prepared to slug it
And although these lawsuits are mostly
confined to the US at present, there are some indications
that the parties involved are prepared to take the fight
into other arenas - such as Europe. If that happens,
then there could be a significant impact on consumer
choice as manufacturers resort to slogging it out in
the courts rather than competing in the marketplace..
something that will not be good news for consumers in
the long run.