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Judge to reconsider Broadcom award

October 16, 2007|From Bloomberg News

A federal judge indicated Monday that he would reverse his decision to double a $19.6-million damage award for Broadcom Corp. in a patent dispute with rival chip maker Qualcomm Inc. because a legal standard had changed.

U.S. District Judge James Selna in Santa Ana issued a tentative ruling in which he said an appeals court changed the law he had applied. Selna on Aug. 10 had doubled the award to $39.3 million because Qualcomm's patent infringement was found to be deliberate.

On Aug. 20, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington overturned a 24-year-old standard that patent owners merely had to show that the accused infringer knew about the patent and failed to avoid violating the invention.

"It would be an understatement to say that the Federal Circuit rewrote decades of case law interpreting the requirements for demonstrating willful infringement," Selna wrote.

At a hearing Monday, Selna said he would delay a final ruling until he could review new arguments by both sides. Selna asked the parties to submit supplemental briefings by Oct. 26 and said he would issue his final ruling the week after that.

Broadcom, best known as a maker of chips for television set-top boxes and Apple Inc.'s video iPod, has been battling Qualcomm in federal and state court and before the U.S. International Trade Commission as it seeks to grab a bigger share of the market for chips used in so-called third-generation mobile phones.

Broadcom, based in Irvine, has won a series of legal victories against San Diego-based Qualcomm.

Broadcom sued Qualcomm in 2005, accusing it of using patented technology covering video encoding on mobile phones as well as ways to use different networks simultaneously and choose between phone networks and the Internet. A jury in Santa Ana concluded in May that Qualcomm had willfully infringed the Broadcom patents.

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