SAN JOSE, Calif. – The U.S. International Trade Commission said it will investigate Apple following allegations by Qualcomm that the iPhone maker is violating six of its non-standards-essential patents. The review is the latest move in an escalating legal battle between the world’s largest cellular chip vendor and one of its largest customers.
One Wall Street analyst said he still believes the two companies could resolve most of their disputes before the end of the year.
However, “our forecasted resolution timing at year-end looks to be increasingly optimistic,” Ross Seymore of Deutsche Bank wrote in a research note. The ITC typically completes an investigation within 15 months of an announcement, in this case about November 2018, he added.
Qualcomm submitted to the ITC on July 7 a request to stop Apple from importing iPhone 7 handsets and other products infringing patents related to “envelope tracking, voltage shifter circuitry, flashless boot, power management circuitry, enhanced carrier aggregation, and graphics processing.”
The Qualcomm patents at issue are:
- No. 8,633,936
- No. 8,698,558
- No. 8,487,658
- No. 8,838,949
- No. 9,535,490 and
- No. 9,608,675
Qualcomm also filed suit against Apple over the same six patents in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. It also sued Apple for patent infringement in Germany.
The ITC request came less than three weeks after Apple added claims to a billion-dollar suit it brought against Qualcomm in January. In the new claims, Apple said Qualcomm violated a May ruling by the Supreme Court by essentially seeking payment twice for its inventions—through chip sales and royalties.
The dispute is already impacting Qualcomm’s revenues. In April, the company lowered its revenue forecast by $500 million because it stopped receiving royalty payments on iPhone and iPads. In July, it reported a 40 percent drop in net income to $800 million, compared to $1.4 billion from the same period last year.
The dust up came to light in January when Apple sued Qualcomm for a billion dollars, claiming the chip vendor “insists on charging Apple at least five times more in payments than all the other cellular patent licensors we have agreements with combined.”
The suit came days after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against Qualcomm, seeking a court order against what it alleges are unfair licensing practices for its cellular baseband patents.
Apple also filed suits against Qualcomm in China and the United Kingdom.
— Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times