Qualcomm Seeks iPhone and iPad Import Ban in the United States

The legal battle between Qualcomm and Apple continues to escalate, with Qualcomm asking the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) to block imports of select iPhone and iPad models, reports Fortune. Qualcomm also wants to stop sales of devices that are already in the United States and has filed a new patent infringement case against Apple in the Southern District of California.

According to Qualcomm, Apple is infringing on six Qualcomm patents related to carrier aggregation and technologies that are designed to allow iPhones to save battery life while communicating. The six patents cited by Qualcomm were granted between 2013 and 2017 and are not licensed or standard-essential patents that are part of the ongoing Qualcomm v. Apple battle over royalty payments.


Qualcomm is asking the ITC to block all iPhones that are equipped with LTE chips from competing mobile communications companies, which would include AT&T and T-Mobile iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models equipped with Intel chips, along with some iPad models. In an interview, Qualcomm lawyer Don Rosenberg said Qualcomm is pursuing another lawsuit and an import ban because Apple is not willing to pay for the technology it uses.

"If Apple was a willing licensee and Apple was someone who was, like everybody else, willing to pay for what they use, we wouldn't be suing them on these patents," Don Rosenberg, Qualcomm's general counsel, said in an interview. "But they're not, and we felt we were put in a position, given all the lawsuits they've brought against us around the world, of not simply having to defend ourselves but having to take some affirmative action ourselves."

As noted in Qualcomm's ITC request, a possible ban on the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and future iPhones wouldn't happen for approximately 18 months, so it would not affect the devices Apple plans to release in September of 2017. Qualcomm expects the ITC to look into the complaint in August and schedule a trial for 2018, and it believes the new patent infringement case filed today could be put on hold until the ITC makes a decision on the import ban.

The dispute between Apple and Qualcomm kicked off in January, when the FTC complained that Qualcomm had engaged in anticompetitive patent licensing practices. Apple sued Qualcomm for $1 billion shortly after, accusing the company of charging unfair royalties for "technologies they have nothing to do with" and refusing to pay quarterly rebates.

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.

Since then, the two companies have been fighting a bitter public battle. Apple in late June expanded its lawsuit against Qualcomm and accused the wireless chipmaker of "double-dipping" with unfair patent licensing agreements. According to Apple, Qualcomm has overcharged it by billions of dollars, while Qualcomm says its innovations are "at the heart of every iPhone."

Alongside its dispute with Apple, Qualcomm is also now facing an FTC lawsuit for using anticompetitive tactics to remain the dominant supplier of baseband processors for smartphones.

Top Rated Comments

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42 months ago

I don't believe that's what this is truly about. It seems it's more of Qualcomm saying that they should get more from Apple because they enable the iPhone to do X amount of things by extension of their products being in them.

Actually, Qualcomm isn't and can't say that because it would be an admission that they are in violation of FRAND, with the ND being non-discriminitory for those patents that are considered essential. One of Apple's central arguments is that they are being charged more for the same technology because Qualcomm is charging based on price of phone, which means every time Apple develops or adds something new, e.g., OLED screen, to a phone, Qualcomm gets paid more. The other argument that has Qualcomm wetting its pants is the double-dipping argument. Based on the recent Supreme Court decision with Lexmark printers that, in essence, says you can't charge for the equipment and then demand a license to use it (Lexmark wanted to prevent companies/customers from refilling their used cartridges and the Court said license for customers went along with purchase), it has to be one or the other. Qualcomm has been doing exactly that and a fair reading of the Lexmark case is that Qualcomm has overcharged Apple and others billions of dollars and the license to use their chips should be inherent in the purchase of the chips. If the courts agree with Apple, Qualcomm will be decimated. These lawsuits by Qualcomm are merely trying, perhaps futilely, to gain some leverage by putting issues on the table to negotiate their way out of the quagmire they are in. Keep in mind they are being sued by other companies and by more than one government.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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42 months ago
Won’t happen.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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42 months ago

Apple should just pay up or develop their own technology.

Patents are often broad enough that you cannot legally develop your own technology.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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42 months ago
In other news, snowfall was reported in Hell.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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42 months ago
I'll preface my question with "I don't pay much attention to this or have much knowledge about it" but:

Does this seem like Qualcomm is trying to get anything they can before Apple makes the full switch to Intel in the US as carriers migrate fully to LTE and away from CDMA?
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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42 months ago

I mean, all this time Qualcomm was allowing Apple to use these patents without any kind of payments??? And only now that they are in a legal battle, they decided to sue them on these??? Is that was Qualcomm is saying?

What they are REALLY saying is that they are mad Apple is also working with Intel, and they are throwing the “i didn’t want to come to your stupid party anyway” tantrum. It’s basically Imagination Technology but the screaming brat is older and throws more plates.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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