Qualcomm, Broadcom brace for possible veto today


I'm taking a risk by writing about the pending Bush administration's decision to either veto or let stand the International Trade Commission's (ITC) ban on the import of 3G phones using Qualcomm chipsets that Broadcom says infringe on its patents. Susan Schwab, the U.S. Trade Representative is supposed to decide on the matter today, hopefully after this newsletter is delivered to your inbox.

Interestingly, David Rosmann, Broadcom's vice president of intellectual property, told EE Times Europe that he suspects the White House ruling will go in favor of Qualcomm. White House vetoes of such rulings are quite rare, so it's a telling revelation, especially when Qualcomm continually refuses to settle with Broadcom.

That hasn't stopped Broadcom from its last-ditch effort to persuade the White House to let the ruling stand. The company renewed its argument that a ruling in favor of Qualcomm will have a negative impact on U.S. efforts to force other countries to enforce IP rights. Meanwhile, CTIA has been arguing about the severe impact such a ban will have on the American economy.

Qualcomm, of course, has been conducting some high-powered lobbying of its own. It has been exploiting the fact that the country's 911 system could be exposed if the ban is left to stand because of a flaw in older generation Qualcomm chips. The flaw, known as voice blanking, sometimes occurs when the transmission of location coordinates from the mobile phone to the 911 center disrupts the voice channel between the caller and the 911 dispatcher. Public-safety entities have made their concern known, agreeing that Qualcomm's newly banned 3G chipsets solve this flaw. Recently, Broadcom has countered, saying it is willing to grant free licenses for its technology to state and local public-safety users, according to the EE Times Europe article.

Will today's outcome be a reflection of lobbying prowess or a real consideration for how such a ban impacts the American economy?--Lynnette

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