Qualcomm Claims Apple is Still Violating Chinese Court Order Despite Software Update to Remove Patented Features
Qualcomm on December 10 scored a victory in its ongoing legal battle with Apple after winning an import ban on the iPhone 6s through the iPhone X.
The ban was enacted after a Chinese court said that the older iPhones infringe on two of Qualcomm's patents related to resizing and reformatting photos for wallpaper and switching between apps.
After the court's ruling, Apple said that the patented features were software related rather than hardware related, and that it would release a software update for iPhone users in China to remove any infringing functionality.
Apple today pushed an iOS 12.1.2 update that presumably includes the promised OS tweaks in China (Apple has not confirmed iOS 12.1.2 includes these fixes), but Qualcomm says that despite the software update, Apple is still violating the Chinese court's order.
In a statement to Reuters, Qualcomm said that Apple continues to "flout the legal system" by violating the injunction and releasing misleading statements about the ruling.
"Despite Apple's efforts to downplay the significance of the order and its claims of various ways it will address the infringement, Apple apparently continues to flout the legal system by violating the injunctions," Don Rosenberg, Qualcomm's general counsel, told Reuters in a statement on Monday.
"Apple's statements following the issuance of the preliminary injunction have been deliberate attempts to obfuscate and misdirect," Qualcomm's Rosenberg said in a statement on Monday.
Apple last week said that "based on the iPhone models" currently offered in China, that it believed it was in compliance with the court's order, but a software update was planned anyway to address "the minor functionality of the two patents at issue in the case."
Apple did not clarify why it believes it is in compliance with the order, but several sites have speculated that devices running iOS 12 do not include the infringing features. That's not clear, however, as Reuters said that operating systems are not mentioned in the court order.
According to Apple, if the ban is ultimately upheld, it will cause "truly irreparable harm to Apple and other companies," costing millions of dollars a day. From a statement last week:
The ban would cost Apple millions of dollars a day and affect both the Chinese government and consumers, the company added, noting it has created 5 million jobs in China across the supply chain and third-party software developers.
The Chinese government "may suffer hundreds of thousands of tax losses" from the iPhone ban because of lost taxes from sales of the devices, the company also said, citing estimates of 50 million units sold in the country in 2017. [...]
"Apple and many other companies, consumers, and government will suffer truly irreparable harm," the company said in the filing.
Qualcomm says that regardless of any software update, Apple is violating the court's ruling by continuing to sell the iPhones without explicit permission allowing it to do so. "They are legally obligated to immediately cease sales, offers for sale and importation of the devices identified in the orders and to prove compliance in court," Rosenberg told Reuters.
In response, Apple reiterated previous comments that it is in compliance with the order. Apple has not stopped selling any of its devices in China to date.