The Bush administration upheld an import ban Monday on cell phones that contain Qualcomm Inc. chips.
Wireless operators were hoping for a veto of an adverse patent ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission which has found that Qualcomm has infringed on a Broadcom patent for battery power conservation, blocking the import of tens of millions of units of future models such as the Motorola RAZR 2.
While existing models will be grandfathered in and remain on sale, Broadcom has offered to license its technology to Qualcomm to avoid future handset blockage, a deal that Verizon Wireless took last month. About 80 percent of Verizon Wireless phones are Qualcomm-based.
The White House has overruled the U.S. International Trade Commission only five times, most recently in 1987.