Qualcomm Heads Back To The Gauntlet

September 18, 2007 by Douglas A. McIntyre

Qualcomm (QCOM) has been to the ITC with Broadcom (BRCM) and lost a ruling that that may prevent the company from importing handsets or chips that violate Broadcom patents. The final punishment is still being decided. Broadcom has also taken its larger rival to federal court over intellectual property violations. Those cases have not been going well for Qualcomm either.

All the patent fuss has pushed Qualcomm’s shares from a 52-week high of almost $48 down to $39.

Now, Qualcomm’s largest customer, Nokia (NOK) will have its turn with the company at the ITC. Nokia told The Associated Press "We believe there is significant evidence that Qualcomm has copied Nokia’s patented technology without permission and has used these innovations in certain GSM/WCDMA and CDMA2000 chipsets."

And, now Nokia wants the US agency to impose another import ban on Qualcomm products.

Add to this that an EU court ruled against Microsoft’s appeal of anti-trust charges against it. There is growing Wall St. concern that Qualcomm’s dominant position as a provider of chips and IP to the handset industry could put it in a similar light with the Europeans.

Leave it at this. The deck is staked against Qualcomm. With each ruling and each new set of charges, that is going to get worse. Qualcomm management can either get out in front of the problems and try to settle them, or its can take the hard line stance that it has done nothing wrong.

The hard line leads to huge legal fees and a stagnant stock price. Ask the lawyers at Microsoft (MSFT).

Qualcomm’s shares have a ways to fall.

Douglas A. McIntyre