A simmering patent dispute between Broadcom and Qualcomm could curtail the introduction of new cell phones this summer, according to this well-done MSNBC piece.
Previously, Qualcomm, which provides many chips used by the industry, was found in violation of a patent held by Broadcom on software that extends battery life of code division multiple access- and wideband-code division multiple access (CDMA and WCDMA)-based phones when they make off-network calls. Last week, the International Trade Commission ruled that the chips could be imported in already available phones, but not in new models.
The story touches on Qualcomm's options, which include concluding a licensing agreement with Broadcom, developing a workaround (which would take a few months), or a significant enough tweaking of the currently used algorithm to steer clear of the patent.
The story doesn't have a comprehensive listing of which companies will be affected, but does mention that carriers Sprint Nextel, Verizon and Vodafone and vendors LG Electronics and Motorola will have to scramble. The timing isn't good for these companies: The story points out that this could limit responses to Apple, which will launch the iPhone on AT&T's network on June 29.
This Seeking Alpha piece compiles the opinions of 14 analysts, categorized by whether they were assessing the impact on Broadcom (slight good to good); Qualcomm (not good, but not as bad as a neophyte may assume); other chip makers (good, since they could help Qualcomm in redesigns); Nokia (good both in hurting competitors and helping with ongoing litigation against Qualcomm) and Apple (slightly positive because it hurts its rivals). http://www.www.itbusinessedge.com/item/?ci=29568The view of this EE Times article, however, is that the situation is a significant blow to Qualcomm and its allies, and the issue may end up before President Bush, who could veto the decision. Others see a veto as unlikely.
It seems that there is too much money at stake for Qualcomm and Broadcom to not come to some sort of an arrangement. Lawsuits seem to be a strategic weapon in the mobile sector, however, so it is possible that a settlement won't be reached if Broadcom sees an advantage in being obstinate.