Qualcomm has launched a new lawsuit against Apple, asking a Chinese court to block the sale and manufacturing of iPhones within the country, according to Bloomberg. This is the latest strike in a legal war between the two companies, which started out in the US and has since expanded worldwide.
In its lawsuit, Qualcomm reportedly claims that Apple is in violation of three patents, none of which are essential to any industry standards — meaning Qualcomm isn’t obligated to license them. "Apple employs technologies invented by Qualcomm without paying for them,” a Qualcomm spokesperson told Bloomberg. Those patents are said to cover power management and the iPhone’s Force Touch feature.
In a statement, Apple said the claims were “meritless,” and that it believed the effort would fail. It suggested the effort was opportunistic, because Qualcomm hadn’t brought up the patents during negotiations and had only issued them recently.
“Apple believes deeply in the value of innovation, and we have always been willing to pay fair and reasonable rates for patents we use. In our many years of ongoing negotiations with Qualcomm, these patents have never been discussed and in fact were only granted in the last few months,” an Apple spokesperson said. “Regulators around the world have found Qualcomm guilty of abusing their position for years. This claim is meritless and, like their other courtroom maneuvers, we believe this latest legal effort will fail.”
This is Qualcomm’s second attempt to get a ban on iPhone sales. In July, it filed a similar claim in the US, pointing to six patents that it said Apple was in violation of.
It seems exceedingly unlikely that sales of any iPhones will be banned. Rather, this mostly seems to be an attempt to get back at Apple for many lawsuit it’s filed against Qualcomm around the globe. It could also give Qualcomm some leverage when negotiating the outcome of those suits.
This legal battle kicked off in January, when Apple filed a lawsuit claiming that Qualcomm was holding payments for ransom. The filing was prompted by a lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission, which claimed that Qualcomm was abusing its market position to get more money when selling its smartphone modems, since it’s by far the dominant supplier. Apple proceeded to file suits making similar claims around the globe, and Qualcomm fired back in various places contending patent infringement.
Things are not looking particularly good for Qualcomm. It’s been repeatedly fined for similar behaviors, with the latest ruling coming down yesterday, when it was fined $774 million by Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission.