A few years ago a huge legal battle between Samsung and Apple dominated headlines as the two giants worked to move to the top of the smartphone market. Since then, things have taken a turn for the better and the companies mostly limit their competitive nature to the market. Over the past few months though, a new, big legal battle is starting to boil and once again Apple is involved. This time the protagonist is Qualcomm. In the latest move, Qualcomm has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission asking for a ban on import of iPhones into the U.S. and that sales of product already in the country be halted.
The basis for the request are six patents that Qualcomm alleges Apple products infringe and are not already covered by existing license agreements. The majority of the patents revolve around various measures to improve performance while also prolonging battery life in mobile devices. Qualcomm notes in an infographic released by the company that all of the patents are relatively new, having been granted in just the last four years.
In action taken earlier this year, Apple sued Qualcomm alleging the chipmaker is abusing its position in the market to overcharge for patents required by industry standards. That point is relevant and explains why Qualcomm makes a note on the infographic about the fact that these six patents are not required by industry standards. Apple’s lawsuit essentially follows on a similar action commenced by the U.S. government in the waning days of the Obama administration.
As part of their dispute with Qualcomm concerning the existing licensing agreements covering other patents, Apple started to withhold payments to companies in the manufacturing chain for iPhones. Those companies in turn refused to make royalty payments to Qualcomm, which has triggered breach of contract lawsuits by Qualcomm against those various component manufacturers.
This latest move escalates the whole issue and was not unexpected. Qualcomm’s choice to file a complaint with the ITC was also no surprise as it is believed the ITC will be able to move much quicker than the lawsuits currently making their way through the system.