Apple Says Qualcomm Has Overcharged Billions of Dollars By 'Double-Dipping' on iPhone's Innovation

Apple has expanded its lawsuit against Qualcomm, accusing the wireless chipmaker of "double-dipping" by way of unfair patent licensing agreements, according to an amended complaint filed with a United States federal court in San Diego today.


The complaint broadens the claims Apple made in its original lawsuit against Qualcomm in January, when it sued the chipmaker for $1 billion in alleged unpaid royalty rebates. Apple also accused its longtime supplier of the iPhone's wireless chip of engaging in anticompetitive licensing practices.

Since the original iPhone, Qualcomm has supplied Apple with modems that enable the smartphone to, for example, connect to a Wi-Fi or LTE network. But as the iPhone has gained more features, Apple argues that Qualcomm has been unfairly "levying its own tax" on those innovations through "exorbitant royalties."

Apple said Qualcomm wrongly bases its royalties on a percentage of the entire iPhone's value, despite supplying just a single component of the device.

As Apple innovates, Qualcomm demands more. Qualcomm had nothing to do with creating the revolutionary Touch ID, the world’s most popular camera, or the Retina display Apple’s customers love, yet Qualcomm wants to be paid as if these (and future) breakthroughs belong to it. Qualcomm insists in this Court that it should be entitled to rely on the same business model it applied over a decade ago to the flip phone but while that model may have been defensible when a phone was just a phone, today it amounts to a scheme of extortion that allows Qualcomm unfairly to maintain and entrench its existing monopoly.

The licensing agreements are in addition to paying for the wireless chips themselves. Apple said Qualcomm's "double-dipping, extra-reward system" is precisely the kind that the U.S. Supreme Court recently forbade in a lawsuit between Lexmark and a small company reselling its printer cartridges.

If that were not enough, the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent landmark decision in Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc., condemned Qualcomm’s business model as a violation of U.S. patent law. The Supreme Court flatly rejected Qualcomm’s business model, holding that a patent holder may demand only “one reward” for its patented products, and when it has secured the reward for its invention, it may not, under the patent laws, further restrict the use or enjoyment of the item. Qualcomm, by its own admission, will not sell chips to manufacturers who do not also pay separate royalties and enter Qualcomm licenses at usurious rates. This is precisely the kind of double-dipping, extra-reward system that the Court’s decision in Lexmark forbids.

Apple said it has been "overcharged billions of dollars" due to Qualcomm's so-called "illegal scheme," including the $1 billion in unpaid royalty rebates that led Apple to sue Qualcomm in January.

In its countersuit, Qualcomm accused Apple of failing to engage in good faith negotiations for a license to its 3G and 4G standard essential patents on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

Apple, however, argues that Qualcomm's monopolistic licensing demands violate its FRAND obligations.

By tying together the markets for chipsets and licenses to technology in cellular standards, Qualcomm illegally enhances and strengthens its monopoly in each market and eliminates competition. Then, Qualcomm leverages its market power to extract exorbitant royalties, later agreeing to reduce those somewhat only in exchange for additional anticompetitive advantages and restrictions on challenging Qualcomm’s power, further solidifying its stranglehold on the industry.

Apple also claims that Qualcomm has never made it a worldwide offer on FRAND terms for a direct license to its patented technologies.

Apple said Qualcomm subsequently filing lawsuits against iPhone manufacturers Foxconn, Pegatron, Wistron, and Compal reveals "its true bullying nature," calling it "a blatant attempt to exert pressure on Apple to acquiesce to" its "non-FRAND royalty demands" by attacking its smaller contract manufacturers.

Qualcomm knows that these are companies who have been effectively coerced by its monopoly practices in the past. Qualcomm knows that these companies merely pass through the usuriously high royalty demanded by Qualcomm and so have little incentive to resist its monopolistic tactics.

Apple has called for the court to declare Qualcomm's patents in the lawsuit unessential to 3G/4G standards used in the iPhone and its other products, and to prevent Qualcomm from taking any adverse or legal action against Apple's contract manufacturers related to the allegations in today's amended complaint.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
43 months ago

Oh I dont know, only allowing there own apps as default.

On their own hardware AND own software?! God forbid!

I don't think you know what anti-competitive means. In fact, I'm sure of it after what you've just said.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
43 months ago

Oh I dont know, only allowing there own apps as default.

Would you argue McDonalds is anti competitive for not sellling whoppers?
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
43 months ago

Apple talking anti competitive practices is pretty ironic..

Oh? Don't leave us hanging. What are you referring to?
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
43 months ago
Apple talking anti competitive practices is pretty ironic..
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
43 months ago
They both make good points. I'm a bit tired of the constant lawsuits involving Apple, but hopefully this doesn't take years (à la Samsung) to wade through, and the courts can issue a ruling reasonably quickly.

EDIT: Having re-read the other MR article about Qualcomm's counter suit, I think I side more with Apple on this, instead of being neutral. Qualcomm's arguments don't really seem to be arguments, more or less just going on about how "iPhone wouldn't have been possible without us!" and claiming Apple didn't try to come to fair agreements, but there is no evidence provided (at least in the MR article).

Again, I guess we just need to let the courts do their job and listen to both parties before making a ruling.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
43 months ago

If Tim Cook wasn't so busy playing world police officer and politician, maybe he could have focused on this instead of loosing 1Billion. Pretty sure anyone on this forum would loose their job over that neglect of oversight.

Where exactly did Apple "loose" 1 billion? Or even lose, for that matter?

If you're referring to the $1 billion dollar lawsuit, then I hate to be the first one to tell you, but that's not how lawsuits work. You don't put that money on the table and then ask the defendant to square you up.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Here's How You Can Download iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 Around the World [It's Out]

Wednesday September 16, 2020 2:36 am PDT by
Apple's official public release of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 dropped on Wednesday, September 16, just a day after the company released the Golden Master to third-party developers. Also set to be made available to the general public for the first time are watchOS 7 and tvOS 14. Getting Started With iOS 14 Video Click image to watch iOS 14 Getting Started While that's left a lot of developers...

When Will the iPhone 12 Launch? Here's What We Know

Wednesday September 16, 2020 6:12 am PDT by
Yesterday's "Time Flies" Apple event saw the release of the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, iPad 8, and iPad Air 4, but no new iPhone models. Rumors before the event strongly alleged that it would not see the unveiling of new iPhones, with many reports pointing to an October launch. The lack of new iPhone models yesterday seems to confirm that the iPhone 12 lineup will not appear...

Apple Releases iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 With Home Screen Redesign, App Library, Compact UI, Translate App, Scribble Support, App Clips, and More

Wednesday September 16, 2020 12:48 pm PDT by
Apple has released iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, the newest operating system updates designed for the iPhone and iPad. As with all of Apple's software updates, iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 can be downloaded for free. iOS 14 is available on the iPhone 6s and later, while iPadOS 14 is available on the iPad Air 2 and later. The updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To ...

Apple Releases Safari 14 for Mac Ahead of macOS Big Sur Launch

Wednesday September 16, 2020 1:40 pm PDT by
macOS Big Sur didn't launch alongside iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, and watchOS 7 today, with the update coming later this fall, but Apple did release the Safari 14 update for macOS Catalina and macOS Mojave users. Safari 14 brings improved performance, customizable start pages, a Privacy Report to see which cross-site trackers are being blocked, and a new tab bar design that provides tab...

Apple Updates AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro Firmware to Version 3A283

Monday September 14, 2020 11:24 am PDT by
Apple today released new 3A283 firmware updates for the second-generation AirPods and the AirPods Pro. The second-generation AirPods are being updated from the 2D15 firmware they were previously running, while the AirPods Pros are being updated from the 2D27 firmware they had installed previously. Apple does not provide details on what's included in refreshed firmware so we don't know what's ...

iOS 14 Picture in Picture No Longer Working With YouTube's Mobile Website in Safari [Without Premium]

Friday September 18, 2020 12:21 pm PDT by
Apple in iOS 14 added Picture in Picture to the iPhone, a feature designed to let you watch a video in a small screen on your device while you continue to do other things on the phone. When Picture in Picture was working with YouTube The YouTube app doesn't support Picture in Picture, but up until yesterday there was a functional workaround that allowed videos from YouTube.com to be watched...

Hands-On With the New Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE

Friday September 18, 2020 1:19 pm PDT by
Today's the official launch date for the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE, both of which Apple announced on Tuesday. We picked up a couple of the new models and thought we'd give them a quick look for MacRumors readers thinking of ordering a new watch. Apple Watch Series 6 & Apple Watch SE Hands-On! When it comes to design, both the $399 Series 6 and the $279 SE look just like...

iOS 14.2 Beta Adds New Shazam Music Recognition Feature for Control Center

Thursday September 17, 2020 3:36 pm PDT by
Apple today released the first beta of iOS 14.2 to developers for testing purposes, and the new update introduces a Music Recognition control for the Control Center. The new feature lets you discover music playing around you and it recognizes the music playing with in apps, even when you're wearing AirPods. Songs pop up as notifications, and you can tap to listen in Apple Music....

8 Third-Party Home Screen Widgets That You Can Try Out Now on iOS 14

Wednesday August 5, 2020 12:56 pm PDT by
One of the biggest new features of iOS 14 is Home Screen widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. The widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. When the iOS 14 beta was first released in June, widgets were limited to Apple's own apps like Calendar and Weather, but several third-party developers have begun to test ...

Apple Releases watchOS 7 With New Watch Faces, Family Setup, Sleep Tracking, Handwashing Help and More

Wednesday September 16, 2020 12:47 pm PDT by
Apple today released watchOS 7, the newest version of the watchOS operating system designed to run on modern Apple Watch models. The watchOS 7 update comes after several months of beta testing. ‌watchOS 7‌ can be downloaded for free through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General > Software Update. To install the new software, the Apple Watch needs to have at...