Intellectual Property is an area in which tech companies are as much rivals as partners. It’s not uncommon for tech companies to indulge in lengthy patent battles while continuing to collaborate in other technologies at the same time.
Samsung and Apple continued their supplier-buyer relationship even after Cupertino based giant filed a lawsuit against South Korean conglomerate, and something similar seems to be going on right now between Qualcomm and Apple as well.
In a recent development Qualcomm has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple, blaming the later of infringing its six separate patents. And that’s not all – the chipmaker has also requested authorities to ban the imports of iPhone in US because of those IP rights violations.
The chipmaker said that it has filed two separate complaints: a lawsuit in US District Court for Southern California, and a request to US International Trade Commission (US ITC). The case filed in Southern California court seeks damages for infringing six Qualcomm’s patents, while the complaint filed with US ITC seeks ban on imports of iPhones in US if they’re found to be infringing those patents.
Speaking about the complaints, Don Rosenberg, Executive VP and Senior Counsel of Qualcomm, said:
“Qualcomm’s inventions are at the heart of every iPhone and extend well beyond modem technologies or cellular standards. The patents we are asserting represent six important technologies, out of a portfolio of thousands, and each is vital to iPhone functions. Apple continues to use Qualcomm’s technology while refusing to pay for it.”
It’s unclear which iPhones, if found guilty of violating Qualcomm’s IP rights, will be affected by the ban. But the company asserted that there’re six of its patents that help achieve longer battery life, which Apple uses in its devices but isn’t paying for.
The Beginning of Feud
While Qualcomm might’ve filed its lawsuit now, the story of this face off didn’t begin here. It began earlier this year in January, when Apple sued the chipmaker for using its dominant position to demand unfair royalties. An Apple press statement at that time stated:
“Qualcomm’s illegal business practices are harming Apple and the entire industry. They supply us with a single connectivity component, but for years have been demanding a percentage of the total cost of our products – effectively taxing Apple’s innovation.”
Then in April at Apple’s quarterly conference call company’s CEO Tim Cook also said:
“Qualcomm supplies only a small part of iPhone, and it has nothing do with the display or the Touch ID or a gazillion other innovations that Apple has done.”
Qualcomm, on its part, responded by saying that Apple had been providing “false and misleading information” to authorities to reduce its royalty payments to the chipmaker. Qualcomm supplies Apple with chip-based modems that’re used in iPhones to communicate with telecom networks.
Now in this clash of titans it’ll be interesting to see who blinks first: Qualcomm or Apple!