US District Judge James Selna has ordered wireless giant Qualcomm to stop selling data chips that infringe on patents belonging to its smaller rival Broadcom. The ruling, issued on Monday 31 December, is the latest in a series of legal victories Broadcom has scored over Qualcomm in 2007 over the rights to technology for cell phones.
The three patented chips involved in the case use WCDMA technology, a small but fast-growing part of the wireless market used mostly in American T-Mobile and AT&T phones.
Selna also ruled that Qualcomm can continue to sell other disputed chips until January 2009, but must pay royalties on them. These chips use a different technology called EVDO and are used on the Verizon and Sprint networks in America. Qualcomm can also use patented Broadcom walkie-talkie technology until January 2009.
Qualcomm, based in San Diego, is the world's second-largest chip supplier for mobile phones after Texas Instruments. It earns much of its money from licensing fees on its patented technology. Broadcom, based in Irvine, California, is a newcomer to the cell phone business.
In May 2007, a jury awarded Broadcom $19.6 million (Rs77.25 crore) in damages for violation of these chip patents. In November, Selna said he would up the award to $39.3 million (Rs154.85 crore), but could not proceed when a federal appellate court raised the bar for proving wilful patent infringement. He then took up the question of whether future sales of the chips should be stopped, resulting in the order.