Four Major iPhone Suppliers Join Apple in Countersuit Against Qualcomm

by

Compal, Hon Hai Precision/Foxconn, Pegatron, and Wistron have filed a countersuit against iPhone LTE modem supplier Qualcomm in an attempt to prevent Qualcomm from successfully forcing them to pay certain licensing fees related to the iPhone's assembly (via Bloomberg). The move is a response to a lawsuit from May when Qualcomm sued the four suppliers for "breaching their license agreements" by failing to pay royalties on the use of Qualcomm's technology in the assembly of Apple's devices.

Now, in a court filing today, the four companies have claimed that Qualcomm is asking for payments "massively in excess" of what it would normally receive. If the countersuit is successful, Apple said that it could cost Qualcomm billions in refunded fees and damages. For the manufacturers' part, the companies described the Qualcomm suit as "yet another...anticompetitive scheme" by Qualcomm.

qualcomm iphone
According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple is said to be covering the legal fees associated with the four manufacturers' defense, and that it would soon file a separate motion to combine the new countersuit with its own suit against Qualcomm, creating one unified case.

Apple’s key contention is that Qualcomm is asking the court to force the contract manufacturers to pay licensing fees due on iPhones above the level the chipmaker normally receives.

The manufacturers -- Compal, Hon Hai Precision and its Foxconn subsidiary, Pegatron Corp., and Wistron Corp. -- denied violating any payment agreements. They called the Qualcomm suit against them “yet another chapter of Qualcomm’s anticompetitive scheme to dominate modem chip markets, extract supracompetitive royalties, and break its commitments to license its cellular technology on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.”

Apple and its manufacturing partners have also responded to a separate Qualcomm court filing, in which the LTE modem supplier requested an injunction to force Apple's iPhone manufacturers to keep paying royalties during the legal battle. Apple, Compal, Foxconn, Pegatron, and Wistron have objected to the request, stating that "there's no harm to Qualcomm waiting to get paid" until the end of the case, when the court determines the correct amount.

Earlier this week, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf said that an out of court settlement for the case could still happen, although he had no specific confirmation or update on the legal battle that suggested a settlement was coming between Qualcomm and Apple. The two companies have been embroiled in the court case since January, sparked by an FTC complaint about Qualcomm's anticompetitive patent licensing practices, and continued with Apple's own lawsuit against the supplier, and then Qualcomm's countersuit response.

If there is no settlement between Apple and Qualcomm, the case is expected to continue for the next few years.

Top Rated Comments

morcutt11 Avatar
46 months ago
Lets not forget Samsung, Intel, and the US FTC have also filed suit earlier this year against Qualcomm. It seems universally agreed that Qualcomm has essentially been extorting technology manufactures and hampering innovation with anti-competitive practices. At this point it looks like Qualcomm v. The World. I don't predict Qualcomm to be a winner in that battle.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
morcutt11 Avatar
46 months ago

Is Qualcomm the real threat here? Everyone is attacking Qualcomm, but who copies and steals the most?!

Oh it's Qualcomm. Let's take a look at what they are doing:
1) They charge licensing fees for patented technology not only from people that make a competing chip (e.g. Intel), but also companies that use those chips (e.g. Apple) in devices.
2) The fee that they charge for someone using a chip (even competing chip) that uses Qualcomm's patented technology is based on the price the device sells for. So Apple pays pays $15/iPhone for the entry-level iPhone, but more for iPhones that sell at higher rates due to more RAM/storage. Remember, this is the case even if Apple isn't using Qualcomm chips.
3) Because of this licensing scheme, it makes it difficult for other chip manufacturers to compete against Qualcomm, hence the US FTC anti-trust lawsuit. The FTC has said that Qualcomm is effectively taxing every cell phone sold.
4) There is also issues with Qualcomm refusing to license its technology to other chip manufacturers, promoting an anti-competitive market.
5) Along the anti-competitive line, Qualcomm has also successfully prevented Apple from implementing technology like WiMAX because it competes with Qualcomm technology.

In the end it will be a court(s) deciding if Qualcomm's technology patents fall under the "fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory" requirements, which other manufacturers are claiming they do as the patents reflect technology that is part of the standards of mobile carrier services.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Cronowerx Avatar
46 months ago
This will not end well for Qualcomm. They better settle out of court ASAP ;)

One of the big advantages of having your partners dependent on you means that your enemies are their enemies.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
blcamp Avatar
46 months ago
Game over, QCOM. Have a nice day.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kaibelf Avatar
46 months ago

Contract manufacturers.
Any competent judge will see through the case stacking with Apple footing the legal fees for all parties.

Doesn’t matter. Qualcomm opened the door to this very thing the minute they tried to sue the suppliers when Apple fought back. Now they will take it in the chin and likely end up paying a lot more in the end.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
joelypolly Avatar
46 months ago

Is Qualcomm the real threat here? Everyone is attacking Qualcomm, but who copies and steals the most?!

Well considering everyone is sueing Qualcomm they do appear to be the problem here. Lets not confuse anticompetitive behavior with something completely unrelated.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Top Stories 44 Feature

Top Stories: 'Thinner and Lighter' MacBook Air, Smaller iPhone 13 Notch, iOS 14.4 Incoming

Saturday January 23, 2021 6:00 am PST by
We continued to hear a lot more about Apple's plans for its Mac lineup this week, including word of a high-end redesigned MacBook Air and the return of an SD card slot as part of the upcoming MacBook Pro redesign. It also sounds like Apple has been working on Face ID for Mac, but it won't be appearing in a redesigned iMac this year as originally planned. This week also saw rumors about the...
magsafecasedangle

Apple Elaborates on Potential for iPhone 12 and MagSafe Accessories to Interfere With Implantable Medical Devices

Saturday January 23, 2021 2:42 pm PST by
Since the launch of iPhone 12 models in October, Apple has acknowledged that the devices may cause electromagnetic interference with medical devices like pacemakers and defibrillators, but the company has now shared additional information. Apple added the following paragraph to a related support document today:Medical devices such as implanted pacemakers and defibrillators might contain...
Flat MacBook Air Feature

Bloomberg: Apple Working on 'Thinner and Lighter' High-End MacBook Air With MagSafe, Could Launch in Second Half of 2021

Friday January 22, 2021 3:34 am PST by
Apple is working on a "thinner and lighter" version of the MacBook Air that the company plans to release during the second half of this year at the earliest or in 2022, according to a new report by well-connected Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman. It will include Apple's MagSafe charging technology and a next-generation version of the company's in-house Mac processors. Apple has discussed...
2021 mbp sd slot feature2

Bloomberg: Next MacBook Pro to Feature SD Card Reader

Friday January 22, 2021 7:50 am PST by
Last week, reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo outlined his expectations for new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models later this year, including the return of the MagSafe charging connector, the removal of the Touch Bar, a new flat-edged design, and the return of more ports built into the notebooks for expanded connectivity. A concept of a modern MacBook Pro with an SD card reader Kuo did not...
airpods galaxy buds comparison

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs. Apple AirPods Pro

Friday January 22, 2021 2:34 pm PST by
Samsung in January unveiled new flagship Galaxy S21 smartphones and alongside the new phones, introduced the $200 Galaxy Buds Pro, which are priced at $199 and offer Active Noise Cancellation. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. These new Galaxy Buds Pro are clearly designed to compete with Apple's AirPods Pro, so we thought we'd compare the two sets of earbuds in our...
maxresdefault

Microsoft Touts Surface Pro 7 as 'The Better Choice' Over MacBook Pro in New Ad

Saturday January 23, 2021 11:02 am PST by
Microsoft yesterday shared a new ad on YouTube titled "Microsoft Surface Pro 7: The Better Choice," in which the company compares its tablet computer to Apple's 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro, as spotted by MSPoweruser. The ad highlights the Surface Pro 7's touchscreen and included stylus as opposed to only a "little bar" (the Touch Bar) on the MacBook Pro. Other advantages of the Surface Pro 7...
iOS 15 icon mock banner

iOS 15 Rumored to Drop Support for iPhone 6s and 2016 iPhone SE

Thursday January 21, 2021 11:58 am PST by
Apple's upcoming iOS 15 operating system, which we expect to see unveiled in June, is rumored to be dropping support for a few of Apple's older iPhones. According to French site iPhoneSoft, iOS 15 will not be able to be installed on the iPhone 6s, the iPhone 6s Plus, or the 2016 iPhone SE, all of which have an A9 chip. The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus were introduced in 2015 and are now more...
maxresdefault

Video Demos macOS Catalina Running on iPad Pro via x86 Emulation

Thursday January 21, 2021 11:36 am PST by
A video demonstrating macOS Catalina running on a current 2020 iPad Pro has been shared on YouTube, giving us a look at an interesting hack that has a Mac OS up and working on one of Apple's iPads. There's limited information about how the process of getting macOS Catalina on an iPad Pro works, but it uses x86 emulation and was done through the UTM software that allows virtual machines to...
iPhone 13 Notch Feature

iPhone 13 Rumored to Feature Smaller Notch, Pro Model Cameras to Use Larger Image Sensor

Thursday January 21, 2021 1:38 am PST by
Apple's iPhone 13 series will feature a redesigned Face ID system that will allow for a smaller notch at the top of the screen, according to a new report today. The rumor comes via hit-and-miss Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes, whose supply chain sources also claim that the ultra wide-angle lens in Apple's next-generation iPhones is due for an upgrade. The next-generation iPhones'...
iOS 14

Apple Seeds iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 Release Candidate to Developers and Public Beta Testers

Thursday January 21, 2021 10:14 am PST by
Apple today seeded the RC version of upcoming iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 updates to developers for testing purposes, with the new betas coming a week after Apple released the second betas. iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center or over the air after the proper profile has been installed on an iPhone or iPad. Paired with the HomePod 14.4 beta that is...