U.S. ITC Judge Says Apple Infringed on Qualcomm Patent, Import Ban Recommended [Updated]

A U.S. International Trade Commission judge today ruled that Apple has infringed on a Qualcomm patent with its iPhones, and has recommended that a limited exclusion order and a cease and desist order be issued against Apple.

According to the ruling, Apple violated claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 8,063,674, "multiple supply-voltage power-up/down detectors." Apple did not violate two other patents that were involved in the case, with the infringement limited to the '674 patent.

qualcomm iphone 7
The judge has recommended an import ban on infringing iPhones, which would prevent them from being sold in the United States.

As CNET points out, this is not a final ruling, and will need to be approved by a panel of judges before it moves on to presidential review.

This is one of two patent infringement rulings expected from the ITC in the ongoing Qualcomm vs. Apple legal battle. Back in September, an initial ruling in a second case also found that Apple infringed on a Qualcomm patent related to power management technology.

The judge in that case recommended against an import ban because of "public interest factors."

Qualcomm wants the ITC to ban imports of AT&T and T-Mobile iPhone 7, ‌iPhone‌ 7 Plus, ‌iPhone‌ 8, ‌iPhone‌ 8 Plus, and ‌iPhone‌ X models that use chips from Intel.

Qualcomm and Apple have been fighting in courts all over the world, and Qualcomm has successfully won import bans in China and Germany, which Apple has since skirted with software and hardware updates.

In the U.S., a jury recently found Apple guilty of infringing on three of Qualcomm's patents, recommending a fine of approximately $31 million in damages. Apple is appealing that ruling and the fight between the two companies is far from over.

Update: In a second patent infringement case that the ITC ruled on today [PDF], Apple was found not to have infringed on patented Qualcomm technology related to power management. This second ruling does not impact the first infringement ruling covered in the initial article.

Update 2: Apple provided Bloomberg with the following statement on the second ITC verdict: "We're pleased the ITC has found Qualcomm's latest patent claims invalid, it's another important step to making sure American companies are able to compete fairly in the marketplace. Qualcomm is using these cases to distract from having to answer for the real issues, their monopolistic business practices. They are being investigated by governments around the world for their behavior and we look forward to detailing the many ways they're harming consumers and stifling innovation when we present our case in San Diego next month."

Top Rated Comments

JPack Avatar
50 months ago
"The ITC is expected to issue a final decision later on Tuesday in a similar case brought by Qualcomm in which the chip maker is also seeking a U.S. ban on sales of some iPhones."

This is more exciting than the keynote event yesterday.
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bladerunner2000 Avatar
50 months ago
Apple doesn't seem to do well in court cases. They need better lawyers. Settle under sealed terms rather than these public embarrassments.
They need better lawyers to get away with breaking laws and regulations?

OK.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
genovelle Avatar
50 months ago
Maybe an iPhone ban will fuel actual innovation.
I'm game.
Qualcomm is only asking to go extinct.
Their aggressive actions awoke the beast. Innovation means Apple is now
Interested in making and designing their own modems. The result is not something Qualcomm wants. Especially as there is a transition to 5G in progress.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rjohnstone Avatar
50 months ago
I don't understand how you can patent a standard, hold a monopoly over it and then preemptively sue people before when they aren't using your product.
The patent in question is not part of any standard.
It is a proprietary function of Qualcomm's power management tech.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Analog Kid Avatar
50 months ago
I would also love for these stories to include at least one sample claim from the asserted patents. In this instance, they should include the infringed claim. I think that would preempt a lot of the silly presumptions about what these patents cover.
What is claimed is:

1. A multiple Supply Voltage device comprising:

a core network operative at a first Supply Voltage; and

a control network coupled to said core network wherein said control network is configured to transmit a control signal, said control network comprising: an up/down (up/down) detector configured to detect a power state of said core network; processing circuitry coupled to said up/down detector and configured to generate said con trol signal based on said power state;

one or more feedback circuits coupled to said up/down detector, said one or more feedback circuits configured to provide feedback signals to adjust a current capacity of said up/down detector;

at least one first transistor coupled to a second Supply Voltage, the at least one more first transistor being con figured to Switch on when said first Supply Voltage is powered down and to switch off when said first supply Voltage is powered on;

at least one second transistor coupled in series with the at least one first transistor and coupled to said first Supply Voltage, the at least one second transistor being configured to Switch on when said first Supply Voltage is powered on and to switch off when said first supply voltage is powered down;

at least one third transistor coupled in series between the at least one first transistor and the at least one second transistor.


It's covering a way to reduce leakage power during the brief period when a core power supply turns off while the I/O remains powered. Presumably this makes it more efficient to turn power on and off more granularly.

Visually, they added M8 and its gate signal:

to what had been the prior art:

M5 looks like an implementation detail and mirrors the role of M6 in presumably reducing leakage in the off state. The "signal processor" is described as an inverting amp, so nothing more than the inverting signal amp shown in the prior art.

Alternatively the feedback path can support the power on detection:



Or both. But Apple will have violated the claim if they add the single M8 transistor.

So, to everyone screaming "Innovation!", this is what innovation looks like: one transistor added in parallel with another. Humanity advances in baby steps, people...

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Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
apolloa Avatar
50 months ago
Oh dear, seems their plan is backfiring on them. Serves Apple right in this instance IMO, it’s what you get for deciding to change the terms of your payment without consultation after several years.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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