A Santa Ana judge on Tuesday found San Diego’s Qualcomm Inc. in contempt of a ban on chips that were found to infringe on patents held by Irvine-based rival Broadcom Corp.
Qualcomm was under an injunction, ordered about a year ago, to prevent the company from continued infringement of two Broadcom chip patents.
The injunction prohibited Qualcomm from making, using, selling, importing and developing certain chips.
It also provided “a sunset period” that allowed Qualcomm to sell the chips to its cell phone maker customers who are still under contract until Jan. 31, provided that it paid a royalty fee to Broadcom.
U.S. District Court Judge James Selna found that Qualcomm violated both provisions of the injunction by selling the chips and by failing to pay royalties.
The court ordered Qualcomm to retrieve the chips and destroy them or to pay Broadcom its profits on the sales.
Qualcomm also must pay the royalties it neglected, a fine for being late and Broadcom’s attorney fees.
This is the second time that Qualcomm has been found in contempt of the same federal court injunction, according to David Rosmann, Broadcom’s vice president of intellectual property litigation.
In August, Judge Selna found that Qualcomm violated the injunction by failing to pay royalties for other cell phone chips.
Selna has called Qualcomm’s conduct in both cases “egregious.”
“The outcome of this issue turns on a legal question of whether there can be a violation of the court’s injunction in the absence of an infringement or acts leading to infringement,” said Christine Trimble, a Qualcomm spokeswoman. “We respectfully disagree with the court’s conclusions and are analyzing our options.”