Last week, Qualcomm said it is filing a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) against Apple for unlawful use of six patents in iPhones.
The press release links to an infographic detailing the patents. Several extend battery life and increase efficiencies to various tasks; one accelerates uploads and downloads; one speeds booting and improves graphics.
The company is asking for a Limited Exclusion Order (LEO) barring importation of iPhone 7 and use of infringing technology not made by Qualcomm affiliates. The company is also seeking a cease and desist order on the sale of such products that have already been imported and halting of “marketing, advertising, demonstration, warehousing of inventory for distribution and use of those imported products in the United States,” according to the press release.
The press release doesn’t identify a model, but the suit itself points to the iPhone 7. The filing is a salvo in a long-running legal battle between the two companies. MacRumors traces the back and forth. In January, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complained that Qualcomm used anticompetitive licensing practices. Apple sued Qualcomm for $1 billion for charging unfair royalties and refusing to quarterly rebates, according to MacRumors:
Qualcomm countersued in April, accusing Apple of breaching licensing agreements, making false statements, and encouraging regulatory attacks against Qualcomm, which prompted Apple to stop making royalty payments to Qualcomm entirely until a court can determine the proper amount due.
The situation has escalated and culminated, for now, with the ITC filing. Shara Tibken offers a good backgrounder at CNET. The nub of the disagreement is over how to value Qualcomm’s connectivity technology. Apple feels that it should pay based on the monetary value of the chips, which link mobile devices to the network. Qualcomm feels that the technology should be valued on the wide variety of benefits it provides.
A tremendous amount of money is on the table. In addition, the politics around such a valuable property are intense. Look for this war to drag on for years. Once both sides have gotten as much as they feel that they can – and when continuing the struggle interferes with profits and long-term corporate strategies – peace will suddenly break out.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.