It may sound like Qualcomm is winning a lot of court battles around the world against Apple Inc. for the iPhone manufacturers infringement on the chipmaker’s patents but it has only had two wins so far in lower courts. One in China with a decision in favor of Qualcomm which requested a ban of Apple iPhones in the Chinese cell phone market and the second just recently in Germany with the same request. It did not win the same suit it presented in the US and there is a very good reason.
Qualcomm claims that Apple, in using its chips, is also using all of its many technological innovations without being duly remunerated. However, Apple purchases its chips from Qorvo, Inc. and in the US, Federal trade regulators found that Qualcomm’s patents were not violated.
A significant fact is that in Germany, Qorvo’s chip’s inventor was not able to give testimony. And so the German courts ruled that in one feature, that of envelope tracking where mobile phone users have the ability to save on battery power while they are using wireless signals, Qualcomm’s patent was infringed upon without due diligence of compensation.
However, when this same suit was brought forth in the US, the Trade Commission ruled that Qorvo’s chips did not violate Qualcomm’s patents based on testimony given. Mike Baker, Qorvo’s chief intellectual property counsel, said, “We believe our envelope tracking chip does not infringe the patent in suit, and the court would have come to a different conclusion if it had considered all the evidence,” Baker said.
Apple is of course appealing both decisions. In the meantime, in order to have the bans enforced Qualcomm must post a bond of about 668.4 million euros, or $765.9 million. Apple will also pull it’s older models off the Chinese and German markets for the time being.
Apple in its appeals is hoping that the higher courts in China and Germany will come to the same conclusions as in the US and rescind the bans on the sale of its iPhones after the same evidence is presented. And if this happens, Qualcomm will lose all its monies invested in the bonds to push forward the bans in both countries not to mention their reputation.
There is a bigger global battle at hand though – Qualcomm’s breaking anti-trust laws by monopolizing the chip making market around the world. Wikipedia states that on January 24, 2018, the European Commission announced a €997 million fine ($1.2 billion) for violating antitrust laws in a series of deals with Apple where the US tech giant paid Apple to use its chips exclusively in its smartphones and tablets.
Qualcomm tried to have iPhones with Intel Corp. chips banned at one time too and Intel’s response after the German decision was that Qualcomm’s licensing practices are being found by anti-trust watchdogs around the world to be downright illegal.
Apple believes it has not committed any wrong doing and will continue to sell its iPhones with new software in them.