Update on Qualcomm’s Patent Lawsuits against Apple



Qualcomm’s counter-attacks on Apple

Apple (AAPL) filed a licensing lawsuit against Qualcomm (QCOM), and the chip supplier responded. Qualcomm also counter-attacked Apple by accusing the iPhone maker of sharing trade secrets with Intel (INTC), which replaced Qualcomm as Apple’s exclusive modem supplier. To prove its point that Qualcomm’s technology offers a lot more than what it charges as royalty, the chip supplier started a string of patent lawsuits across the globe and approached several courts, seeking a sales ban on older iPhones powered by Intel’s modems.

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Qualcomm’s successful patent lawsuits against Apple

Qualcomm achieved success in securing a ban on some iPhone models in Germany (EWG) and China (FXI), as those countries’ courts found Apple guilty of violating some patents. While Apple did not comply with the ban in China, Qualcomm made sure the iPhone maker complied with the ban in Germany by demanding the court levy a hefty fine on Apple.

Apple tried to work around the infringed patent by making some hardware and software tweaks, but there was no escape. Thus, it decided to only sell the Qualcomm modem-powered iPhone 7 and 8 in Germany.

Qualcomm’s ongoing patent lawsuits against Apple

While Qualcomm achieved success in some cases, its patent infringement claims were rejected in some cases. In a separate case, a German court ruled against Qualcomm on four patents and is yet to rule on four more patents.

Qualcomm filed patent infringement claims for six patents with the ITC (International Trade Conference). Of these six, it dropped three, the Administrative Law Judge ruled out two, and Apple worked around the last patent with a software update.

Qualcomm also filed infringement lawsuits for non-SEPs (standard essential patents) related to graphics processing and energy efficiency in mobile phones in the US court. The court prevented Qualcomm from seeking financial compensation for infringement before the lawsuit was filed in 2017.

It remains to be seen if the Qualcomm-Apple battle ends in fiscal 2019 or continues for another year.

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