US agency imposes ban on phones with Qualcomm chips

A federal agency has banned US imports of new mobile phones made with Qualcomm semiconductors because the chips violate a patent held by Broadcom, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report quoted  the US International Trade Commission as saying that the import ban would not apply to mobile phone models that are already being imported, just to future models.

The ruling is a blow to Qualcomm, to wireless handset makers such as Motorola and Samsung, and to service providers such as Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and AT&T, ther report said.

All three service providers sell phones that rely on Qualcomm chips to access their high-speed data networks, and 80% of the phones sold by Verizon use San Diego-based Qualcomm's technology, it added.

Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm's CEO, was quoted as saying that the decision could prevent imports of tens of millions of mobile phones.

The company will immediately ask a federal court to prevent the ban from taking effect and ask President Bush to veto the order, the report said.

Verizon Wireless said it will also ask a federal court to block the order and urge a White House veto, the report said.

AT&T said it was studying the ruling and considering its options, while Sprint Nextel declined to say if the company would join Verizon's appeal.

The White House has 60 days to veto the ruling, said Lou Lupin, Qualcomm's general counsel, the report further said.