Qualcomm Seeks Apple iPhone Import Ban

rhe bitter legal spat between Qualcomm and Apple has deepened after a second trial between the two began before US International Trade Commission (ITC) on Monday.

The second trial between the two firms, in Washington DC, sees Qualcomm asking the ITC to ban the importing of a number of recent iPhone models into the United States.

Last year some big names in the tech industry came out in support of Apple in its long-running legal battle with chip maker Qualcomm.

First trial

The two companies have been going head to head for some time, with Apple last year filing a lawsuit against Qualcomm for unfair royalty payments related to the use of Qualcomm technology in iPhones.

Apple sued Qualcomm for $1billion (£770million) for allegedly withholding payments, with Qualcomm responded to in March 2017 with a lawsuit of its own claiming Apple had been misleading customers about chip performance.

But the chip-maker also filed a lawsuit claiming that Apple had infringed on up to six patent and had been seeking to ban the sales and marketing of iPhones in the US.

That first trail at the ITC concluded in June this year, and according to Reuters, it saw a US staff attorney recommend that the judge find Apple infringed at least one Qualcomm battery-saving patent and that some Intel-chipped phones should be blocked from coming into the US market.

However the attorney also reportedly said that models with so-called 5G connectivity should be allowed in order to keep the market for 5G chips competitive.

The staff lawyers’ opinions are not binding, but judges often follow them.

A decision in that case is expected later this month, and could have wide implications for Apple.

Second trial

But now Qualcomm has kicked off a second lawsuit against Apple before the ITC on Monday.

According to Reuters, Qualcomm is asking trade judges to ban the import of certain iPhone models containing Intel modem chips, which help the phones connect to Wi-Fi networks.

Specifically, Qualcomm is reported to suing Apple over three patents, two of which relate to how Intel’s modem chips handle radio signals, and one relates to how Apple’s processor chips put its iPhones to sleep.

Apple will have a number of chances to appeal any ITC decision, including asking US President Donald Trump to void the order.

President Obama in 2013 did just that in 2013, when he overturned a ban on some Apple iPads and iPhones that arose out of a dispute with Samsung.

In July this year it was reported that Apple was considering moving away from using Intel’s 5G modems in future iPhones.

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.

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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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