A US trade judge has ruled in a preliminary ruling on several points that Apple infringes Qualcomm’s patents. On the basis of this, the court recommends that a limited import ban be imposed.
The judge finds that Apple has infringed two patents of Qualcomm. According to The Verge, those patents are specifically about power management and data download speed. According to the judge, Qualcomm has proved that Apple has violated legal provisions regarding the import of goods to the US and their sale.
This may mean that Apple is no longer allowed to import certain devices with Intel hardware from China to the US. This judgment is not yet final and is subject to review by the US International Trade Commission. This committee is expected to make a decision later on Tuesday in another but similar patent case between Apple and Qualcomm, which also involves a ban on the sale of iPhones with an Intel chip.
At the end of last year, Apple was already faced with a sales ban for the iPhone 7 and 8 in Germany, after a patent case turned out in favor of Qualcomm. This specifically concerned chips for wireless communications from Apple’s supplier Qorvo, which Qualcomm claims infringe patents on envelope tracking technology. That chip is integrated into the Intel modems that Apple uses in the iPhone 7 and 8. In this case, Apple finally took the plunge and decided to replace the Intel modems of the iPhone 7 and 8 in Germany with a Qualcomm one. .
Earlier this month, a judge ruled that Apple must pay Qualcomm $31 million for infringing three patents. This was about whether Apple infringed any patents on how Internet connections are established, graphics processing, and traffic between the application processor and the modem.
All of these lawsuits are part of a long-running legal battle between the two companies. That battle started when Apple demanded a billion dollars more than two years ago, because Qualcomm refused to pay a sum of money to Apple. That payment was contractually agreed as a refund of previous licensing fees incurred by Apple. This concerns the situation where the factories that make the iPhones pay Qualcomm billions of dollars for the use of technology patented by the chip designer, such as that for modems. Apple reimburses these costs to the factories and Qualcomm should compensate for that, Apple says. As a result of this case, the two companies have become embroiled in the necessary, partly unrelated lawsuits, mainly related to alleged patent infringements.