A US federal government agency yesterday published a ruling in a patent dispute which could have severe ramifications for San Diego-based semiconductor developer Qualcomm. Under the decision, millions of new mobile handsets equipped with Qualcomm chips could be barred from import into the country for allegedly infringing a patent held by rival microchip company Broadcom, of Irvine, California. According to reports in the New York Times, Qualcomm says it plans to appeal immediately to the Federal Court to block the ruling. The company also said that it planned to appeal to President Bush, whose trade representative, Susan C Schwab, has 60 days within which to veto the ruling. The company said it sought ‘to avoid irreparable harm to US consumers’ and injury to the economy. If Qualcomm is unsuccessful in its appeal, millions of mobile phones designed for Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and AT&T Wireless could be barred from being imported into the US.