Qualcomm Takes Another Blow

Qualcomm Takes Another Blow after a ruling from the court yesterday.

Qualcomm has taken a few blows over the last month. First the court sides for the opponent, cell-phone giant Broadcom, then Qualcomm’s Chief Counsel jumps ship, then wireless industry star Sanjay Jha, who grew up in India in a home with no phone, left to join the cell phone originators, Motorola. And most recently a U.S. federal judge ordered Qualcomm to stop providing services for some third-generation cell phones and to return profits earned from QChat version 3.0 walkie-talkie push to talk phones to Broadcom. QChat uses standard voice-over Internet protocol (VoIP) technologies. Qualcomm was found in contempt of an order from last year preventing Qualcomm from infringing on three Broadcom patents.

Oddly enough both companies have asked that certain portions of the judge’s orders surrounding QChat and WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) products be kept secret. From the sounds of it this QChat technology is pretty hot stuff if both parties want to keep it a secret.

On May 29, 2007 a jury found that Qualcomm infringed on three Broadcom patents and it awarded $19.64 million in damages for previous infringement in the case. Qualcomm apparently has received more than $93 million in QChat payments from Sprint since the injunction ruling.

Qualcomm reported an 18% increase in profit during the first quarter this year and a 6% increase to $766 million. No one knows how much Qualcomm will owe the telecommunications giant Broadcom over yesterday’s ruling but Qualcomm has until the end of the month to figure it out. Jha, one of the engineers behind Qualcomm’s rise in recent years won’t be helping count the monies owed. He’s probably content with the $35 million he accepted from Motorola.

Qualcomm maintains that it's a matter of interpreting the injunction and said it plans to appeal the decision. In a statement, Broadcom said Qualcomm's actions show a lack of respect for competitors' intellectual property and for the courts.

No one really knows how the recent chain of events will effect the telecommunication industry, patent laws, or the boundaries of intellectual property. The legal rulings could scare companies for a while but with open source technology and the convergence of multiple technologies in a smaller and smaller world the speed of growth is likely to be exponential. VoIP will continue to gain speed regardless of who is behind the push to talk features.

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