Qualcomm, Apple go to war over licensing

13 Apr 2017

Qualcomm and Apple will battle it out in court over patent licensing for technology used in the iPhone, with both filing suit against the other.

Apple recently filed three lawsuits against Qualcomm, in the US, China and the UK, accusing the chipmaker of abusing its dominant market position to force Apple to pay billions in superfluous royalty payments for components that have nothing to do with Qualcomm baseband processors.

These components include Touch ID and Apple Pay. The US lawsuit is seeking $1 billion in damages, while the lawsuit in China is seeking $145 million.

Now Qualcomm is hitting back, filing an answer to Apple's lawsuit as well as a counterclaim accusing Apple of failing to engage in good-faith negotiations regarding Qualcomm's 3G and 4G standards-essential patents on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

Qualcomm has also accused Apple of breaching agreements and negotiations with the company, interfering with Qualcomm's agreements with licensees that manufacture iPhones and iPads for Apple and encouraging “regulatory attacks” on Qualcomm's business by making false claims.

Apple also allegedly deliberately chose not to utilize the full performance of Qualcomm chips in the iPhone 7 to misrepresent the performance disparity between iPhones using Qualcomm's modems and those using competitor-supplied modems, and threatened Qualcomm in an attempt to prevent it from making public comparisons about the relative performance of iPhones.

“Over the last ten years, Apple has played a significant role in bringing the benefits of mobile technology to consumers with its popular products and services. But Apple could not have built the incredible iPhone franchise that has made it the most profitable company in the world, capturing over 90% of smartphone profits, without relying upon Qualcomm's fundamental cellular technologies,” Qualcomm EVP and general counsel Don Rosenberg commented.

“Now, after a decade of historic growth, Apple refuses to acknowledge the well established and continuing value of those technologies. It has launched a global attack on Qualcomm and is attempting to use its enormous market power to coerce unfair and unreasonable license terms from Qualcomm.”

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