Qualcomm to Pursue iPhone Import Ban in United States in Ongoing Apple Feud

The legal battle between Qualcomm and Apple is heating up, with Qualcomm planning to seek an import ban that would prevent iPhones from being able to enter the United States, reports Bloomberg. Qualcomm is reportedly "incensed" over Apple's decision to stop paying licensing fees during the dispute and is aiming to retaliate.

Qualcomm is preparing to ask the International Trade Commission to stop the iPhone, which is built in Asia, from entering the country, threatening to block Apple's iconic product from the American market in advance of its anticipated new model this fall, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.

Qualcomm and Apple have been facing off in an ongoing legal dispute since January that started when the FTC complained that Qualcomm had engaged in anticompetitive patent licensing practices. Shortly after the FTC complaint, Apple sued Qualcomm, accusing the company of charging unfair royalties for "technologies they have nothing to do with" and refusing to pay quarterly rebates.

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In April, Qualcomm countersued, accusing Apple of breaching licensing agreements, making false statements, and encouraging regulatory attacks against Qualcomm's business in multiple countries. Qualcomm claims Apple "could not have built the incredible iPhone franchise" without relying on Qualcomm's "fundamental cellular technologies."

The lawsuit heated up in late April when Apple stopped making royalty payments to Qualcomm and confirmed it would not continue payments until a court figured out the total amount that was owed. Apple CEO Tim Cook yesterday reiterated that Apple could not pay the fees without the court deciding what amount should be paid due to Qualcomm's refusal to license its patents under FRAND (Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory) terms.

In terms of why we're withholding payments, you can't pay something when there's a dispute about how much is needed to be paid. There hasn't been a meeting of the minds there. At this point, we need the courts to decide that. [...]

The reason we are pursuing this is that Qualcomm is trying to charge Apple a percentage of the total of the iPhone value, but their modems/patented technologies are one small part of the iPhone. We don't think that's right, so we're taking a principle stand on it. We strongly believe we're in the right, as they probably think they are.

The United States International Trade Commission could potentially put a stop to iPhone shipments to the United States should the ITC side with Qualcomm. ITC cases are processed more quickly than cases in the federal courts, where this lawsuit will likely be drawn out for years to come.

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Top Rated Comments

Andres Cantu Avatar
93 months ago
Good luck with getting the iPhone banned in the U.S.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
newyorksole Avatar
93 months ago
Lolol I'm no expert in this matter, but there's no wayyyy any company is gonna stop Apple from importing iPhones.

Apple has way too many legal resources for that to even get close to happening.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kdarling Avatar
93 months ago
The last time Apple tried to get out of paying for a FRAND patent because they claimed the price was too high, the ITC banned their devices from import:

ITC Rules Apple Infringed on Samsung Patents, Issues Cease and Desist Order for Older Apple Devices - MacRumors 2013 ('https://www.macrumors.com/2013/06/04/itc-rules-apple-infringed-on-samsung-patents-issues-cease-and-desist-order-for-older-apple-devices/')

And that was with Samsung reportedly asking for "a licensing fee of 2.4% per device sold, which Apple found to be unreasonable." The ITC ruled 1) that royalties based on price were standard with cellular patents, and that 2) it was just an initial offer, which Apple was expected to negotiate down.

Fortunately for Apple, the Obama administration stepped in and vetoed the import ban, saying that a ban could not used for a FRAND situation... unless the licensee continued to avoid actual negotiating.

Not so sure Trump would do the same, if the ITC rules in a similar manner.

Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nuckinfutz Avatar
93 months ago
Good Deity this is getting out of hand.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
konqerror Avatar
93 months ago
Good luck with getting the iPhone banned in the U.S.
It did happen. Broadcom got all of Qualcomm's chips banned for import by the ITC during their patent dispute. This meant no phones at all for Verizon and Sprint.

Carriers had to pay license fees directly to Broadcom to get around it. Major factor in Qualcomm's eventual settlement.
http://www.mercurynews.com/2007/08/06/u-s-upholds-import-ban-on-qualcomm-chips/

Because Apple doesn't participate in wireless standards, they have no IP to fight back, so I'd venture to guess that they're in a much weaker position than Qualcomm.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macfacts Avatar
93 months ago
... If Apple charge $1 for an iPhone, Qualcomm gets, maybe $0.01? If they charge $1,000 why should Qualcomm get $10? ...
Can't have it both ways. When Apple sued Samsung for rounded corners, Apple got a percentage of the entire cost of Samsung's phones sold. Apple didnt just ask for the cost of the plastic phone shell.
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no one said it was.
This news story is saying Apple has stopped payments. That sounds like free to me.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)