Apple Sues Qualcomm In London Courts Over iPhone Tech Charges

Apple has filed another lawsuit against mobile chip maker Qualcomm on Thursday in British court, adding to the patent war in the smartphone market.

The lawsuit alleges that Qualcomm is charging Apple unfairly for royalty payments for use of its technology in its iPhones.

The decision by Apple to expand its patent campaign comes after the iPad sued Qualcomm in the United States in January. It has also filed two legal cases against Qualcomm in China.

Patent War

Qualcomm of course is the firm behind the Snapdragon processors, and its ARM-based processors powers the majority of high-end smartphones.

Indeed, the firm makes most of its money from selling chips, but more than half of its profit from a separate licensing business, according to Bloomberg.

It reported that Apple had filed its London lawsuit in the High Court of Justice Chancery Division on 2 March.

Apple’s complaint is said to centre around “patents and registered designs”, and there is no further information about the lawsuit.

Qualcomm told Bloomberg that it hadn’t seen the complaint and couldn’t comment on it.

But it is worth noting that Apple is already suing Qualcomm elsewhere. In January it filed a lawsuit against it in California, alleging that Qualcomm monopolised the market for chips for wireless devices.

Apple point Bloomberg to its previous statement on its American lawsuit, saying that Qualcomm has for many years “unfairly insisted on charging royalties for technologies they have nothing to do with”.

“Qualcomm built its business on older, legacy, standards but reinforces its dominance through exclusionary tactics and excessive royalties,” Apple said in the January statement. “Despite being just one of over a dozen companies who contributed to basic cellular standards, Qualcomm insists on charging Apple at least five times more in payments than all the other cellular patent licensors we have agreements with combined.”

In China the two lawsuits accuse Qualcomm of acting like a monopoly and failing to fulfil promises to licence essential processor patents at a reasonable price.

Global Battle

Qualcomm is a firm currently mired in legal fights all over the world. It is being investigated by the US Federal Trade Commission on possible antitrust charges, and is facing similar investigations by the European Union and Taiwan.

South Korea has already fined Qualcomm $902 million (£736m) for alleged monopolistic practices.

And last July Qualcomm paid almost $20 million (£16m) to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit that alleged the company was blocking equal pay and promotion for its women engineers.

Qualcomm meanwhile is locked into an expensive process to acquire Dutch chip maker NXP Semiconductors.

That deal sees Qualcomm paying an eye watering $47 billion in cash (£38.5bn) or $110.00 per NXP share. Before the deal was confirmed, NXP has a market value of about $28.5 billion (£22bn), while Qualcomm was approximately $93 billion (£72bn).

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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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