Friday, June 22, 2007

Foul tip

If Qualcomm’s count at the ITC (with Broadcom on the mound) is 0-2, then Thursday’s decision by the ITC not to override itself is the equivalent of a foul tip — the count stays unchanged.

In its clutch appeal, Qualcomm got support from the CTIA and the top four US carriers: AT&T (née Cingular), Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile. It also said that its MediaFLO deployment for AT&T and Verizon — the preferred mobile TV solution for 53% of US cell phone subscribers — could be delayed by the ban.

The final possibility is a presidential veto, which (AFAIK) would have to come sometime in early August if it is coming at all.

Mike Dano of the industry’s oldest trade journal, RCR News, mocked the Qualcomm position:
Qualcomm is asking for a presidential veto on the ITC ban. That’s right: Rather than pay Broadcom a simple patent-licensing fee (a payment most other businesses would consider standard), Qualcomm is going to petition the world’s most powerful leader for a veto. I’m sure that President Bush has plenty of time to deal with this situation, seeing as how the immigration thing fell through and all.

Anyway, I guess I can sort of understand Qualcomm’s position: In the interest of its shareholders, the company feels the need to exhaust all options possible. No word yet on whether Qualcomm is going to secede from the United States and form its own independent government where the only valid patents are those developed by Qualcomm—which, to me, is the next logical step if a presidential veto doesn’t work.

I’m sure they will call it “The Confederate States of Qualcomm,” and Paul Jacobs will rule with a gentle, kind hand, much like Aragorn, crowned as King Elessar, ruler of Gondor.
I agree with Dano that it would take some significant prompting for president Bush to intervene. Is he likely to listen to Qualcomm and its allies?

Jacobs ClintonCEO Paul Jacobs’ former bosses — dad Irwin M. Jacobs and co-founder Andrew Viterbi — were known as donors to Democrats, at more than $300k and $50,000 respectively. Irwin Jacobs got his National Medal of Technology from Bill Clinton in 1994.

At this point, Pres. Bush is not running for re-election and his ties to the GOP party machinery weaken by the minute. However, his party and campaigns have strong ties to home state telephone monopoly SBC (er, AT&T), and according the left-leaning Center for Public Integrity, the phone companies and SBC in particular were among the largest Bush donors.

Irwin Jacobs’ counterpart, Broadcom chairman and co-founder Henry Samueli (and his wife Susan) seem to mainly spend their political money on state races, in addition to $75 million spent buying the Stanley Cup.

If Bush backs Qualcomm and most of the industry over Broadcom, is that politics or good policy? Would Clinton have done any different (I think Clinton clearly would have favored Jacobs, particularly as a lame duck). Conversely, if the European Commission backs most of its telecom manufacturers — and Broadcom — over Qualcomm, is that politics or good policy?)

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