Wireless Industry Responds Strongly To The ITC/Qualcomm Ban - InformationWeek

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Commentary
6/11/2007
10:54 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Wireless Industry Responds Strongly To The ITC/Qualcomm Ban

The U.S. International Trade Commission sure kicked up a lot of dust in the wireless industry last week with its ruling against Qualcomm. The ruling, which bans Qualcomm from importing certain chips that infringe upon a Broadcom patent, drew reactions from the CTIA, analysts, phone manufacturers and wireless network operators alike. While some surprising compan

The U.S. International Trade Commission sure kicked up a lot of dust in the wireless industry last week with its ruling against Qualcomm. The ruling, which bans Qualcomm from importing certain chips that infringe upon a Broadcom patent, drew reactions from the CTIA, analysts, phone manufacturers and wireless network operators alike. While some surprising companies came to Qualcomm's defense, an old foe took another shot across its bow.Qualcomm itself issued a statement from CEO Dr. Paul Jacobs shortly after the ruling was issued:

While there is no immediate disruption to Qualcomm's ability to import chips, this decision does immediately affect third parties who were not even permitted to appear in the infringement proceeding. We believe the Commission has not afforded manufacturers and operators, who will bear the brunt of this order, an adequate opportunity to defend their interests. In declining to ban existing products, the Commission recognized the adverse impact of a downstream remedy to the public interest, but decided on a measure that will limit consumer choice and access to mobile broadband services, be harmful to operators, manufacturers and the economy, and pose risks to public safety communications.

And so did the CTIA's President, Steve Largent:

CTIA-The Wireless Association believes today's decision by the International Trade Commission will cause enormous undue harm to tens of millions of American wireless consumers, and urges President Bush to veto the ITC importation ban. The ITC decision unnecessarily decreases competition, and denies millions of consumer's access to innovative wireless broadband products. This decision flies in the face of public policy that encourages the availability of broadband services and products, and could have the unintended effect of impairing the wireless industry's efforts to improve communications in areas such as public safety. Consumers should not have to pay the price for a legal debate that could be settled by other means.

It's no surprise that the CTIA would back Qualcomm. But what was somewhat surprising is this report, which says that phone manufacturer LG, as well as wireless network operators AT&T and T-Mobile, also are coming to defend Qualcomm. While LG is one of the phone manufacturer's that stands to lose the most if the ban is upheld, AT&T and T-Mobile actually stand to benefit from the ban. For them to have Qualcomm's back shows that the industry is willing to protect its own. That gives me warm fuzzy feelings all over.

Not everyone is feeling the love, though. Long-time Qualcomm nemesis, Nokia, has dropped more litigation in Qualcomm's lap. It has filed patent counter assertions against Qualcomm related to Qualcomm's use of 6 Nokia implementation patents in its MediaFLO and BREW businesses. Qualcomm has in previous litigation sought injunctions against Nokia and therefore in this case Nokia is seeking both damages and injunctive relief.

Despite the support from a large portion of the wireless community, I don't think this is going to be the summer of love for Qualcomm.

Patent litigation is just so much fun.

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