Trade Agency Rejects GPS Patent Claims Against Broadcom

The U.S. International Trade Commission has rejected patent claims against Broadcom by GPS (Global Positioning System) vendor SiRF Technology.

SiRF Technology claimed that Global Locate, which Broadcom acquired last year, had infringed two of its patents in GPS products. After a six-day trial that took place in March, ITC Administrative Law Judge Paul Luckern issued an Initial Determination on Friday that rejected those claims, according to Broadcom. Also on Friday, the ITC found that the asserted claims of one of SiRF's patents are invalid, Broadcom said.

Broadcom, a major vendor of communications chips in Irvine, California, bought Global Locate last year and has used its technology to get GPS built into products such as mobile phones and personal navigation devices. The satellite-based, location-tracking technology is poised to play a major role in mobile services that take advantage of a handset owner's location. GPS will be included in the Apple iPhone 3G, hitting the market next month.

SiRF originally had filed four claims against Global Locate, prior to the Broadcom acquisition, but dropped two of them prior to the trial, according to Broadcom.

The patent dispute goes both ways. Before the buyout, Global Locate had filed six patent-infringement claims against SiRF at the ITC. An Initial Determination on those is expected by Aug. 8. Global Locate also filed four such claims in a U.S. federal court, and last month Broadcom filed four more claims against SiRF in federal court.

A representative of SiRF, which is based in San Jose, California, was not immediately available for comment.

The ITC is an independent, quasi-judicial federal agency that investigates complaints about dumped and subsidized imports to the U.S., as well as intellectual property and other disputes regarding imported products. In an earlier win for Broadcom at the ITC, last year the agency ruled that mobile technology company Qualcomm infringed Broadcom patents. It barred Qualcomm from importing certain chips to the U.S., though it allowed mobile phone vendors to ship the chips in their products.