U.S. iPhone ban isn’t out of the question in Qualcomm battle

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Qualcomm headquarters
Apple has been battling Qualcomm since early last year.
Photo: Qualcomm

Certain iPhone models have been barred for sale in China, but a similar ban in the U.S. isn’t totally out of the question. The U.S. International Trade Commission has said that it plans to review a previous ruling stating that a ban on iPhone imports was not in the interests of the general public — even in the event that Apple infringed on a Qualcomm patent.

Apple and Qualcomm have been battling it out for much of the past two years. They are scheduled to meet in court next April.

Qualcomm’s case involving the ITC kicked off in July last year. The argument was that iPhones containing Intel chips were infringing on Qualcomm patents due to the way that they were implemented in the iPhone. The case started out with six patents, although these were later dropped down to three.

In the end, the ITC ruled that Apple had infringed on one of these patents. However, the member of the ITC tribunal who presided over the case ruled that a ban on iPhone imports wasn’t in the interest of customers. It seems that this decision may now be re-examined.

The agency is set to look at the kind of impact that a limited ban might have on Apple. Qualcomm’s executive VP and general counsel said that: “We are pleased that the Commission is going to review the Administrative Law Judge’s recommendation that no ITC remedy should result from a finding of infringement.”

Apple vs. Qualcomm

The dispute between Apple and Qualcomm started in January 2017. The initial instigating factor was Apple suing Qualcomm for allegedly withholding $1 billion in rebates because Apple assisted South Korean regulators investigating Qualcomm’s business.

At present, the big issue is the $7 billion in royalties Apple supposedly owes Qualcomm. It also says that Apple has stolen its proprietary trade secrets and passed them on to Intel.

This week, a court in China granted Qualcomm an injunction against Apple. The ruling bars Apple from importing and selling the iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and iPhone X. However, it’s not clear whether this is a complete ban or just a ban on these devices running older versions of Apple software.

Source: Reuters