Qualcomm and Broadcom in WCDMA patent spat

The two chip makers are fighting it out in an American appeals court over royalties Broadcom says Qualcomm owes it for phone chip tech.

Chip makers Broadcom and Qualcomm sparred in an American appeals court yesterday over patents used to make mobile phones that offer web-access and other multimedia features.

Qualcomm was ordered last year to stop selling phones with WCDMA chips by January 2009 because they infringe on three Broadcom patents and was barred from seeking new customers.

The ruling issued in the US District Court for Northern California also required Qualcomm to pay royalties to Broadcom for the chips it sells during the "sunset period."

Two of the three judges hearing the case, Sharon Prost and Richard Linn, appeared skeptical of at least some of Qualcomm's arguments that the lower court erred in ruling that Qualcomm infringed; erred in barring it from selling its products and erred in instructing the jury.

"So what is the problem here?" said Prost during Qualcomm lawyer Evan Chesler's argument on the injunction.

"That's not wrong," said Linn in response to one of Chesler's points on jury instruction.

WCDMA mobile wireless technology provides much higher data speeds to mobile and portable wireless devices than most North American networks.

The two companies also argued before the same court on Tuesday in a case that could result in BlackBerries and other advanced mobile phones being banned for US sale.

At issue is a patent on technology that helps cell phone chips use less power. The US International Trade Commission ruled last year that Broadcom owns the patent and that Qualcomm is wrongly selling chips for telephones that contain the technology.

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