Due to a new ruling in August by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, making it more difficult to prove intentional patent infringement, U.S. District Judge James Selna has tentatively overturned a $39.3 million award against beleagured chipmaker Qualcomm. Previously, if a jury found a defendant guilty of willful infringement, the presiding judge could as much as triple the damages; however, the new ruling in the Court of Appeals has now cast the verdict against Qualcomm in doubt, hence the reversal of the award. Judge Selna stated in his ruling that it was up to Broadcom Corp. if it wants a new trial.
A jury found in May that Qualcomm violated three patents on Broadcom technologies to help cell phones process video and walkie-talkie conversations and hand off calls between different networks. In August, before the appeals court ruling, Selna doubled the jury's $19.6 million award, based on a finding that the infringement was willful. If Broadcom drops its claim that Qualcomm acted deliberately, the verdict holding San Diego-based Qualcomm liable would stand, but the amount of the award would be revised, Selna concluded in his ruling Monday. David Rosmann, an attorney for Irvine-based Broadcom, said the company has not yet decided whether to seek a new trial. The judge asked both companies to submit any additional briefs by Oct. 26 and said he would issue a written ruling the following week.