updated 11:50 am EST, Wed January 2, 2008
Qualcomm 3G Workaround
Qualcomm will avoid a potentially damaging Broadcom-related ban through its own inventions and a special exemption-, both a federal judge and Qualcomm itself have revealed. After failing to dismiss claims by Broadcom of patent infringement for video compression and network technologies, Qualcomm is required to stop selling some chips in the US which use the WCDMA technology at the heart of AT&T's 3G network. However, the federal court has now granted a stay that will let Qualcomm sell some of these chipsets through January 2009 as long as it pays royalties for the technology.
This will be helped further by new chipsets, Qualcomm says. Four new chipsets will launch by March that are functionally identical to earlier models but which avoid the patents at the heart of the Broadcom suit, allowing phones using the technology to be sold in the US without facing the restriction. The gap between the legal ruling and their release will have an "immediate short-term impact" on the ability to sell phones but should lift fears of any long-term damage, the company says.
WCDMA shares its roots in the UMTS technology often used in Europe and forms the basis of HSPA, the standard used for most third-generation Internet access on GSM-based cellular networks.
The ban also extends to the EVDO chips used in phones carried by providers such as Sprint and Verizon and prevents Qualcomm from selling any new chipsets that might violate Qualcomm's patents, though the ruling will allow any of these electronic devices to be sold until the same January 2009 marker as for WCDMA. Qualcomm has not said when it expects to release EVDO hardware that escapes Broadcom's patent claims.