ITC slaps partial ban on 3G handsets

The International Trade Commission has ruled in favor of Broadcom and issued a ban on the importation of new cell phones made with Qualcomm 1xEV-DO and WCDMA chipsets. The ITC says those chipsets infringe upon patents held by Broadcom. Those patents cover power management features in certain 3G wireless phones. It is still unclear precisely which handsets will be affected, but Qualcomm says that they believe the order applies to 1xEV-DO and WCDMA phones but not 1xRTT phones. Companies can still import phones that contain the questionable chips, as long as the models are already on the market. But no new phones that contain the chips can be brought into the U.S.

This will likely have a huge impact on the fourth-quarter holiday handset buying season, unless Qualcomm can find a solution quickly. It will also make things difficult for Verizon and Sprint who were probably depending on the chips to launch a 3G-enabled handset (or handsets) to combat AT&T's upcoming iPhone launch. The iPhone will not launch with 3G capabilities, but since Qualcomm has a pretty solid grip on the WCDMA market too, it may be a bit more difficult to launch a 3G iPhone any time soon.

For more on the ITC ruling:
- read this report from the commission