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ITC Upholds Broadcom Claims, Issues Order Against SiRF

January 16, 2009  - By
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Image: GPS World

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has issued an exclusion order against certain SiRF GPS chips and products containing those chips imported into the United States, as well as cease-and-desist orders against SiRF and four specific SiRF customers.

This comes after the commission affirmed an ITC administrative law judge’s initial determination that SiRF infringes on three additional GPS patents held by Global Locate Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Broadcom. This latest ruling brings the total number of Global Locate GPS-related patents that SiRF has been found to infringe up to six.

In 2008, an ITC administrative law judge found that SiRF infringed on all six patents asserted by Global Locate/Broadcom and subsequently recommended an import ban within in the United States; SiRF appealed the finding. The full ITC Commission subsequently upheld the administrative law judge’s finding on three patents, while holding off on a final determination on the other three pending further review. On Thursday, January 15, the commission issued both its Final Determination on those patent issues and orders regarding the appropriate form of remedy.

“We are optimistic that the ITC orders will become effective after a 60-day statutory review period so that U.S. Customs may begin enforcement and prevent any further patent infringement,” said David Rosmann, Broadcom’s vice president for intellectual property litigation.

The six patents at the center of the dispute are United States patents 6,417,801; 6,937,187; 6,606,346; 7,158,080; 6,704,651; and 6,651,000 — relating to extended ephemeris assistance, calculating time in GPS receivers, enhancing sensitivity in assisted GPS systems, and implementing hardware structures for parallel correlation, according to Broadcom. These patents involve several SiRF products, including SiRFstarIII and SiRFInstant devices.

For its part, however, SiRF said that the impact of the ITC’s decision is minimal, as the products involved are legacy products. It also hinted that it could still file an appeal in federal court.

“We are pleased that the commission followed the Federal Circuit’s Kyocera ruling, which significantly limits the impact to our customer base,” said Kanwar Chadha, founder of SiRF in a statement. “While disappointed with the commission’s ruling as it relates to its patent infringement findings regarding SiRF’s earlier products, we continue to work closely with the named customers to conform with the commission’s ruling and enable them to maintain uninterrupted product delivery to market.”

Chadha was referring to a federal circuit court’s October 14, 2008, decision that ITC limited exclusion orders only affect parties named in an investigation involving Kyocera. Other than the four named customers in the investigation, all other SiRF customers are not affected, the company said. Those four customers have not been named publicly.

SiRF further noted that following the 60-day presidential review period it has the option to appeal the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, but did not specifically say it would pursue this option. Broadcom and SiRF are already duking it out in federal district court over patent disputes; that trial is scheduled to begin in November 2010.

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