Qualcomm gets a breather in patent fight against Broadcomm and stay on Ban on importing 3G cellular handsets

Qualcomm got a breather now, and so did a number of its key customers. The Ban on the importation of new 3G handsets containing Qualcomm chips is stayed while an appeals court reviews the merits of the case. The United States International Trade Commission had imposed the ban in June as a remedy to its finding that Qualcomm infringed on a Broadcom patent for power management. While this may be buying time for Qualcomm, it is buying a very important time, because wireless service providers such as Sprint Nextel and Verizon Wireless typically sell a significant portion of handsets in the holiday season starting October.

Besides Qualcomm, handset manufacturers such as Samsung, Motorola, Sanyo, Kyocera, and LG will benefit by being able to sell 3G new handsets (the ban was limited to new models of 3G handsets). Cellular carriers such as Sprint Nextel and to a lesser extent AT&T will benefit. Verizon Wireless Struck a Deal with Broadcom by paying $6 to Broadcom per handset to avoid the ban, so it’s not bound by the ban on importation of 3G handsets (or the stay of the ban). Sprint Nextel was also relying on handsets that had a “workaround” from Qualcomm that avoided using Broadcom’s patent, although Broadcom was expected to challenge the workaround in court.

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit believes that the ban would unjustly harm  Qualcomm customers. The stay of the ban is a major psychological boost after the company’s recent setbacks on the patent infringement case with Broadcom. This will give Qualcomm a much needed breather before seeking a complete reversal of the original infringement finding and the ban.