ITC to probe RF chips used by Moto, HTC

June 11, 2012 // By Dylan McGrath
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) said it voted to institute an investigation into radio frequency ICs and devices containing them made by Motorola Mobility Inc., HTC Corp., and RF Micro Devices Inc.

The investigation, based on a complaint by Peregrine Semiconductor Corp., (San Diego) will focus on products including RF switches that allow users to transmit and/or receive wireless signals more efficiently while consuming less power, the ITC said in a statement. The investigation will also focus on cellular handsets incorporating such RF circuits, the ITC said.

Peregrine's complaint alleges that some of RF Micro Devices' chips infringe on Peregrine's patents related to silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology for RF ICs. According to Peregrine, the ITC investigation involves five Peregrine patents and 38 separate patent claims.

Motorola Mobility and HTC market products that incorporate the alleged infringing RF ICs, Peregrine said. Peregrine is seeking, among other remedies, an exclusion order preventing the importation and sale of infringing products in the United States, the company said.

"We are very pleased that the ITC has taken this matter seriously and will investigate our complaints," said Jim Cable, Peregrine's president and CEO, in a statement. "The employees of Peregrine have spent 20 years of intensive research and development activity to bring our proprietary UltraCMOS process and design innovations to the RF marketplace."

A spokeswoman for Peregrine said the company had no further comment on the complaint or the investigation.

By instituting an investigation, the ITC has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case, the ITC said. The organization's chief administration law judge will assign the case to one of its six administrative law judges, who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing on the matter, ITC said. The judge will then make an initial determination as to whether RF Micro does infringe the patents at issue. That determination will be subject to review by the entire commission, the ITC said.

The ITC said it would set a target date for completing the investigation within 45 days of initiating it. ITC investigations into technology matters typically take many months to complete.

RF Micro Device