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Appeals Court Modifies Ruling on Qualcomm-Broadcom Dispute

Qualcomm’s long-running patent dispute with rival chipmaker Broadcom Corp. found little clarity this week after a federal appeals court restored some patent rights to two Qualcomm technologies that play video over mobile phones, but sent the case back to the lower court for more guidance.

Video compression technologies are increasingly popular as companies develop smart phones that play video.

A San Diego judge in 2007 ruled that Qualcomm had intentionally hid the patents , which are upgrades to MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 video technologies , from a standards-setting body called the Joint Video Team. Then in 2005 Qualcomm sued the adopter of that standard, Irvine-based Broadcom.

However, the appeals court on Dec. 1 disputed the lower court decision that Qualcomm had therefore forfeited its right to enforce those patents anywhere.

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The appeals court said Qualcomm cannot use its patents in connection with the Joint Video Team industry standard, but said the court overstepped its authority by totally revoking the patents. It sent the case back to the San Diego court to narrow its scope and define which products Qualcomm had lost patent enforceability to. Qualcomm must also pay Broadcom’s attorneys’ fees, which total more than $8.5 million.

Qualcomm through a spokesperson said it was “disappointed” with the ruling, but pleased that the court ordered a narrower scope for the remedy.

Broadcom said it would continue to pursue the issue in other cases against Qualcomm.

“We believe Qualcomm has violated the rules of the cellular standards bodies as well, a fact we are determined to bring to light in our other pending cases,” David Rosmann, a vice president for intellectual property litigation at Broadcom, said in a statement.

The two companies are embroiled in disputes in courts and at the International Trade Commission.

, Ned Randolph

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