Qualcomm’s legal feud against fellow tech giant Apple took another step forward this week when the semiconductor and telecommunications equipment company filed a patent infringement lawsuit, which requested a ban on importing certain iPhones. According to Qualcomm, Apple is allegedly using the company’s chip technology “unlawfully” and “unfairly.”
One of two legal actions filed by Qualcomm cited a complaint asking for the iPhone import ban with the U.S. International Trade Commission, a quasi-judicial government agency that hears cases involving trade disputes. The first complains states that Apple’s iPhones (which are made in China), shouldn’t be allowed into the United States if they infringe on Qualcomm’s patents. The second complaint Qualcomm filed against Apple was in the U.S. District Court for Southern California, where the tech firm is seeking damages from the patent infringement allegations mentioned earlier.
It wasn’t immediately clear which iPhones could be affected by these complaints. Qualcomm does claim it has six patents developed over the last four years that improve battery life in mobile devices. The company also states that “Apple uses these technologies in their devices but isn’t paying for them.”
“Qualcomm’s inventions are at the heart of every iPhone and extend well beyond modem technologies or cellular standards,” says Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm. “The patents we are asserting represent six important technologies, out of a portfolio of thousands, and each is vital to iPhone functions. Apple continues to use Qualcomm’s technology while refusing to pay for it.”
These recent legal developments heightened the legal dispute between the two tech entities, which began at the start of 2017 when Apple filed a lawsuit that accused Qualcomm of abusing market powers and demanded unfair royalties. Earlier in 2017, Apple’s Chief Executive Tim Cook said Qualcomm provides “one small part of what an iPhone is,” and the company “has nothing to do with the display, touch ID, or a gazillion other inventions that Apple has done.”
“Qualcomm’s illegal business practices are harming Apple and the entire industry,” an Apple statement said. “They (Qualcomm) supply us with a single connectivity component, but for years have been demanding a percentage of the total cost of our products- effectively taxing Apple’s innovation.”
Apple has relied on Qualcomm for chip-based modems that enable its devices (like iPhones) to communicate with telecommunications networks. The Apple suit “echoed” the charges filed by antitrust regulators in the United States and other major markets around the globe. Qualcomm’s responded back in April by accusing Apple of providing “false and misleading information” to antitrust authorities in an effort to reduce its royalty payments to Qualcomm.