Sunday, March 18, 2012

What the SiRF patent dispute means for GPS receivers

A U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) judge has recommended that the ITC "bar from importation into the U.S. infringing chips of SiRF Technology," including GPS devcies that have those chipsets in them. The chips have been found to infringe upon Broadcom’s patents.

The question I have is, how is this going to affect the GPS market? DigiTimes is reporting that Mitac, parent company of Mio, is going to stop using SiRF chipsets in the fourth quarter.

I’m no GPS engineer, but here’s my take on it. The changeover may be less painful for auto PND manufacturers, since auto devices have a little accuracy leeway due to their "lock to road" feature.

For a handheld manufacturer like Magellan though, this could be quite problematic. Garmin, with all of its engineering resources, has struggled with the accuracy of non-SiRF chipsets in their eTrex-H series and Colorado models. And what is to become of the Garmin 60CSx, the popular SiRF-powered handheld that is probably the most accurate consumer unit on the market. Will Garmin have to put another chipset in it?

Of course, another possibility is that SiRF will pony up licensing fees and make nice with Broadcom.

C’mon you tech types…what do you think about all this?

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.


  1. I don’t think SiRF has the cash to pay those fees even if they wanted to.

  2. Yeah, they’re heading towards penny stock territory, fast.

  3. They will continue in the courts to block the ban (remember similar Qualcomm chipset case) and the patents will be overturned.
    If they aren’t, they will pay the license or die.
    If they die, Broadcom will make SIRF chipsets.
    Either way, SIRF chipsets will continue. A lot of the economy relies on accurate GPS now.

  4. Thanks for post. Nice to see such good ideas.

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