Qualcomm files suit against Apple, seeking import ban for infringing iProducts


Qualcomm Suit Apple

Apple vs Qualcomm

The Apple vs Qualcomm drama has taken a turn for the dramatic. Today Qualcomm has fired back its own complaint against the ITC, and filed a suit in California, claiming that Apple is infringing on Qualcomm’s patents and that an import ban on the infringing products is justified. The suit is only against products which use modems “other than those supplied by Qualcomm’s affiliates,” which, presumably, means the Intel modems that Apple has chosen to use in some models. 

Qualcomm claims that the six patents included in the suit are not part of any industry standard and that it is therefore not obliged to offer to license them as part of those standards. Qualcomm also released an interesting infographic PDF about the suit, as well, for anyone interested in how the company is choosing to market the details of the case

Qualcomm suitt Apple

Most of the patents in question don’t seem to point to hardware (except #8,487, 658) but almost exclusively apply to optimizations in software to improve performance. Qualcomm’s marketing fact-sheet doesn’t do a great job of illustrating what each does since it reduces most things down to the technical level of “data super-highways,” but you can generally understand it. Generally, they apply to methods of saving power, often while transmitting data, by cutting the right corners.

Qualcomm expects the ITC to respond in August, and that the case filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California will begin next year. Both the ITC complaint and the lawsuit are almost assuredly a response to Apple’s suit filed earlier this year.

I hate to editorialize too much in this circumstance, but the content and complexity of this matter almost beg it. So if you don’t want my opinion on the subject, you can stop here and consider yourself informed about the general details of the case.

Even leaving aside the curiosity that Qualcomm isn’t also pursuing an action against Intel for being the manufacturer and supplier of the potentially infringing modems, I think it’s fairly clear that this is just a counter-claim being made to force Apple to back down or commit even more resources to the fight. While it’s possible their claims are legitimate, the timing is questionable. Meanwhile, Qualcomm is still in the middle of an FTC antitrust investigation, and in the press release for this lawsuit, it is advertising the fact that the patents involved aren’t being FRAND licensed. It’s stunning. That image alone, I think, is illustrative.

Regardless of opinion, this is definitely not the last that we will hear in the ongoing Qualcomm saga. The full press release is available below:

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