Qualcomm can't enforce patents, judge rules

Qualcomm can't enforce patents in the H.264 video compression standard because it hid them from a standards body, a US judge rules.

Qualcomm can't enforce two patents involved in the H.264 video compression standard because it hid them from the standards body that developed H.264, a federal judge has ruled.

The decision is a setback for Qualcomm in an ongoing series of patent battles with rival communications chip maker Broadcom. A jury found in March that Qualcomm hid its patents from the Joint Video Team, violating the group's disclosure obligations. Qualcomm had earlier sued Broadcom over alleged violation of those patents.

The U.S. District Court judge also found that Qualcomm committed misconduct during the suit against Broadcom, because it failed to produce thousands of relevant documents until after the trial and some of its witnesses gave inaccurate testimony. Qualcomm was also ordered to pay Broadcom's attorney's fees and costs of the suit.

Qualcomm said in a statement Tuesday that it has apologized for its misconduct during the trial, but will appeal the ruling on disclosures to the standards body. The company says it complied with all written rules of the group and disagrees that there were unwritten disclosure obligations.

This has been a tough week for Qualcomm in its battles with Broadcom. On Monday, the George Bush administration decided not to veto a ban on importation of new models of phones that use certain Qualcomm chips. Broadcom had won that ban in a patent-infringement suit, and Qualcomm had asked the administration's U.S. Trade Representative to intervene. Qualcomm plans an appeal in that case.

Broadcom said in a statement that it was gratified with the ruling, but "disappointed that Qualcomm chose to stoop to such tactics."

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Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service

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