U.S. trade group says Broadcom violated Intel patents

An administrative law judge for The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has ruled that broadband chip maker Broadcom Corp. infringed on two intellectual property patents held by Intel Corp., an Intel spokesman said Friday.

Now that a preliminary ruling has been issued, the commission has 90 days to approve the ruling, which would result in Broadcom being prevented from importing to the U.S. any components that make use of the patented technology, said Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy.

Broadcom officials called the ruling as a victory for them. Intel had asked the ITC to investigate possible violations of four of its patents but the Committee ruled in Intel's favor on only two of them, said Steve Anzalone [cq], an attorney for Broadcom with the law firm Finnegan Henderson LLP of Washington, D.C.

Those two patents affect only two products -- known as "managed repeaters" -- that are sold by the Broadcom subsidiary Altima Communications Inc., he said. The two patents do not affect any products sold by Broadcom itself, he said.

"Manages repeaters were a small market at the start of this case, and they have declined further since," he said. He added that should the ITC uphold the ruling and prevent the affected products from being imported to the U.S., it would have no material financial impact on Broadcom or Altima.

Intel filed its complaint with the ITC in August of last year, alleging that products sold by Altima violated certain Intel patents used in some integrated repeaters, switches, transceivers, and other products. Broadcom later acquired Altima, closing the deal in September.

If the ITC approves the ruling, it will "ban the import of these components either separately or as assembled products," Mulloy said. The patents cover fundamental chip technologies and are used in a variety of components, from chip sets to assembled communications products, he said.

Anzalone disagreed. He said the ITC did not recommend that the ruling apply to assembled, or "downstream," products, only components sold separately. He also said that the ruling would apply only to future imports, and would take effect from Oct. 23.

(Additional reporting by James Niccolai in San Francisco.)

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