Apple Restarts Sales Of Older iPhones In Germany

Apple has resumed sales of its older iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 handsets in Germany, after they were banned last year following a legal victory by Qualcomm.

Apple and Qualcomm are of course locked in a bitter legal battle, and on 20 December last year, a court order from the Munich District Court ruled that Apple had infringed Qualcomm patents on power-saving technology used in smartphones.

Qualcomm then managed to post security bonds totalling 1.34bn euros in order to enforce the court order in Germany. This meant that Apple had to pull the iPhone 7 and 8 models from its own 15 retail stores in Germany (plus its online store) during the appeal process.

Qualcomm agreement

But now according to Reuters, Apple and Qualcomm have reached an agreement whereby Apple can resume selling the two iPhone models again.

The only caveat is that Apple can only sell older versions of the iPhone handsets that utilise Qualcomm chips.

The court ruling did not prevent Apple from selling its more recent handsets, such as the iPhone XS, with Intel chips.

Qualcomm and Apple are fighting legal battles around the world at the moment, but in Germany Qualcomm had sued Apple which had been selling some older iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models that contained chips from Apple supplier Qorvo Inc – whose chip was only present in older phones with Intel modems.

According to Reuters, Qualcomm alleged those Qorvo chips violated Qualcomm patents around so-called envelope tracking, a feature that helps mobile phones save battery power while sending and receiving wireless signals.

The Munich court sided with Qualcomm and banned sales of some iPhone models that used Intel modem chips.

Bitter fight

Despite this agreement, the two sides look set to continue their legal tussle. Last October Qualcomm said that Apple owed it $7bn (£5.5bn) in patent royalty payments for the use in its chip in iPhones.

Prior to that, Qualcomm accused Apple of stealing its technology in order to share it with rival chip makers, including Intel.

It alleged that Apple developed an “intricate plan” to steal proprietary information and share it with Intel and others over a period of several years, in order to cut its own costs.

Apple of course denies those allegations.

Apple has in turn accused Qualcomm of abusing its market dominance, saying the fees Qualcomm charges are unfair.

Qualcomm last November sued Apple for allegedly violating the terms of the contract between the two companies, and has separately accused Apple of violating its patents.

It has also repeatedly sought to ban the importing of iPhones into the US.

Apple had historically relied on Qualcomm chips, but its bust up with the chip designer meant that it turned to Intel in recent years for its chipsets.

It dropped Qualcomm chips altogether last year.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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