Qualcomm on the Patent Ropes

On a slow news day, you can always count on lawyers to give you something to talk about. Today's news: Qualcomm just got knocked to the mat in their patent fight with Broadcom. How's that? Well on top of the President refusing to veto the ban on their 3G chips, a judge has now just doubled the fines they'll have to pay for their infringements up to this point, to the tune of nearly $40 million. Quallcomm's response: can their lead attorney:

In a move following a string of legal defeats to Broadcom Corp., a rival and a newcomer to the cell phone business, Qualcomm Inc. announced yesterday that its lead counsel, Lou Loupin, will be resigning.

Read: Qualcomm's Top Attorney Resigns

Oops. Now, maybe Qualcomm was hoping that the masses would rise up in their defense. They shouldn't, though, because moves like this definitely don't garner you good will:

Qualcomm kept its patents on H.264 a secret until the video standard had been adopted by the industry, and then sued users for breaching those patents, a San Diego federal court has ruled.Qualcomm was an active member of the Joint Video Team (JVT) which defined the H.264 video standard, now used extensively in mobile phone video applications. But while doing so it failed to mention owning at least two patents which anyone implementing the standard would need to license.Once Broadcom had started development of chips using the standard Qualcomm, "without any prior letter, email, telephone call, or even a smoke signal, let alone attempt to license Broadcom, Qualcomm filed the instant lawsuit against Broadcom for infringement of the '104 and '767 patents", the court said.

Read: Qualcomm: And THIS is why we need open standards ...

Smells a little like Qualcomm trying to play a tit-for-tat legal game and botching it, don't it?

So what will Qualcomm do now? Well, they apologized for the H.264 debacle (nice) and according to RCR Wireless (Reg Required, sorry), they're looking for a workaround:

Qualcomm re-emphasized its commitment to providing its customers with new software, i.e., a "workaround," that could pass muster with officials enforcing the ITC ban.

Good luck with that. In other news, weren't we supposed to see Verizon's UTStarcom XV6800 drop today? My laws, I hope its non-appearance is just a coincidence/falsified rumor. Actually, I know it is, since Verizon smartly got itself out of this Qualcomm quagmire on its own. Broadcom execs want you to know they've put the same offer on the table for everybody else. My advice, take it, you can trust current Broadcom execs, it's just the old ones you can't trust.

WC Staff