US says ban on phones with Qualcomm chips stays

The Bush administration upheld an import ban on phones that contain Qualcomm chips, further threatening the introduction of new handsets, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report quoted US Trade Representative Susan Schwab as saying that she was sticking to a long practice of declining to overrule the US International Trade Commission unless conditions were 'extraordinary.' The executive branch has overruled the ITC only five times, most recently in 1987.

In June, the ITC banned imports of new, high-end phones that run on Qualcomm chips, raising doubts about the introduction of some models from carriers and manufacturers like LG Electronics and Samsung, the Associated Press report said.

The ITC ruling came in patent dispute between Qualcomm and rival chipmaker Broadcom. The commission found that Qualcomm infringed on a patent that protected Broadcom's technology to conserve battery power.

Qualcomm said it will ask a federal appeals court to overturn the ban. CEO Paul Jacobs said in a statement that he was disappointed but added that Qualcomm will pursue 'all legal and technical options available' to limit the impact on consumers.

The Associated Press report said the ban applies to the high-speed EV-DO and W-CDMA network technologies. Schwab acknowledged worries that the ban may slow the introduction of 3G mobile phones but said Broadcom's licensing deals with 'two major wireless carriers' would soften the impact.

Verizon Wireless, whose phones run on Qualcomm chips, struck a deal with Broadcom last month to pay for each phone it sells that carry one of Qualcomm's patent-infringing chips. Neither the US Trade Representative nor Broadcom would identify the second carrier to strike such a deal.