IP Advisory: Federal Circuit Enforces Disclosure Requirements in Standard-Setting Process

Last week’s Federal Circuit decision in the Qualcomm v. Broadcom litigation offers interesting insights into that court’s willingness to apply poorly defined notions of public policy and implied contract to situations wherein participants in the adoption of an interoperability standard later try to assert patents arguably necessary to the practice of that standard. The court affirmed the district court (Southern District of California), which had held two Qualcomm patents unenforceable due to waiver and equitable estoppel arising from Qualcomm’s participation in a standard-setting organization (SSO). In doing so, the Federal Circuit fills in some of the details and unanswered questions left open in its earlier decision in Rambus Inc. v. Infineon Technologies AG, wherein the court reversed a district court finding that Rambus committed fraud by failing to disclose an intent to procure patent claims that it thought would be necessary to practice a standard for computer memory operation. The Qualcomm decision could be important in several respects.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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