US iPhone imports imperiled as ITC hears Qualcomm complaint

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 15
The first of more than a dozen legal actions between Apple and Qualcomm went to trial in Washington, D.C., on Friday, where U.S. International Trade Commission staff issued a recommendation that the presiding trade judge find the iPhone maker in infringement of Qualcomm IP.

iPhone 7


Brought in front of an ITC judge, Qualcomm's complaint alleges iPhone and iPad models powered by Intel cellular modems are in infringement of owned patents relating to various mobile technologies including carrier aggregation, graphics processing and signal amplification. The chipmaker last July asked the body to block the import of such equipment and implement a U.S. sales ban in a bid to force a settlement.

After reviewing the case, ITC staff lawyers lodged an opinion that a judge find in favor of Qualcomm on at least one patent covering battery-saving technology, reports Reuters.

While ITC staff act as a neutral third party, judges often side with their recommendations, the report said. In this case, such a ruling could lead to exclusion and cease and desist orders targeting a number of iPhone models.

Apple in filings leading up to today's trial proceedings argued Qualcomm's patents-in-suit are invalid. Further, the company suggests a ban on iPhone models carrying Intel modems would give Qualcomm a monopoly on cellular modems in the U.S.

Today's trial and the multiple actions that ensued between Apple and Qualcomm both domestically and abroad over the past year share a common origin in a lawsuit Apple filed against the chipmaker in early 2017.

Among other claims, the tech giant in that case alleges Qualcomm withheld nearly $1 billion in rebates in retaliation for Apple's participation in a South Korean antitrust investigation. Apple also claims Qualcomm abuses its "monopoly power" to demand high royalties and force chip buyers to license patents. The case sparked a string of suits and countersuits that span six countries.

Aside from its troubles with Apple, Qualcomm has run afoul of governmental regulators in certain jurisdictions, including the European Union, which leveled hefty fines against the chipmaker for nefarious dealings.

The ITC case is expected to conclude in January.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 616member
    The ever impartial Lucy Koh again?
  • Reply 2 of 16
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,902member
    elijahg said:
    The ever impartial Lucy Koh again?
    Judge Koh is not an ITC judge. 

    As for the US ITC staff siding with Qualcomm, it doesn't really make sense with all the other government fines and actions against them. Qualcomm is a monopoly that is keeping anyone else from competing. Intel has started to try and compete but this is recent.
    edited June 15 jbdragonbshank
  • Reply 3 of 16
    Shouldn't QC be filing suit against Intel then? If the Intel chip infringes on QC's patents then there is a case for Intel to answer. I guess suing Apple is more credible for QC's PR.

    jbdragonAlex1N
  • Reply 4 of 16
    IreneWIreneW Posts: 110member
    Shouldn't QC be filing suit against Intel then? If the Intel chip infringes on QC's patents then there is a case for Intel to answer. I guess suing Apple is more credible for QC's PR.

    I think this is because Apple is the one importing the goods to US.
  • Reply 5 of 16
    roakeroake Posts: 583member
    Qualcomm is sinking and continues to thrash around trying to secure some sort of income so they can cling to life.  If they won a suit against Intel, it would be a one-time cash infusion, and would take many years (of appeals) to get.  If they successfully leverage a suit against Apple, they hope to force Apple to use their products, therefore giving them the lifeline that they need.
  • Reply 6 of 16
    IreneW said:
    Shouldn't QC be filing suit against Intel then? If the Intel chip infringes on QC's patents then there is a case for Intel to answer. I guess suing Apple is more credible for QC's PR.

    I think this is because Apple is the one importing the goods to US.
    Where are Intel's Baseband chips made? If they are made in the USA then...????
  • Reply 7 of 16
    IreneWIreneW Posts: 110member
    IreneW said:
    Shouldn't QC be filing suit against Intel then? If the Intel chip infringes on QC's patents then there is a case for Intel to answer. I guess suing Apple is more credible for QC's PR.

    I think this is because Apple is the one importing the goods to US.
    Where are Intel's Baseband chips made? If they are made in the USA then...????
    The chips were mostly manufactured by TSMC. The phones were all made in China.
  • Reply 8 of 16
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,902member
    IreneW said:
    IreneW said:
    Shouldn't QC be filing suit against Intel then? If the Intel chip infringes on QC's patents then there is a case for Intel to answer. I guess suing Apple is more credible for QC's PR.

    I think this is because Apple is the one importing the goods to US.
    Where are Intel's Baseband chips made? If they are made in the USA then...????
    The chips were mostly manufactured by TSMC. The phones were all made in China.
    The phones are assembled in China but parts are made around the world. 
    jbdragonwatto_cobrabshank
  • Reply 9 of 16
    nunzynunzy Posts: 660member
    Qualcomm got Appled for their anticompetative practices, and now they are all butthurt. So they went to the ITC in a desperate attempt.

    They will be stomped into the ground.
    jbdragonbshank
  • Reply 10 of 16
    Brought in front of an ITC judge, Qualcomm's complaint alleges iPhone and iPad models powered by Intel cellular modems are in infringement of owned patents relating to various mobile technologies including carrier aggregation, graphics processing and signal amplification. The chipmaker last July asked the body to block the import of such equipment and implement a U.S. sales ban in a bid to force a settlement. (BOLD MINE)
    Ummm what does a modem have to do with graphics processing? A modem specifically deals entirely with packets and literally doesn't care about what those packets represent. Even if that data is movies or images all it does is transmit those packets it's up to the computer to assemble those packets into something it can understand. Therefore how could Intel infringe on a patent that it most likely isn't using at all?
    Alex1N
  • Reply 11 of 16
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,041member
    Brought in front of an ITC judge, Qualcomm's complaint alleges iPhone and iPad models powered by Intel cellular modems are in infringement of owned patents relating to various mobile technologies including carrier aggregation, graphics processing and signal amplification. The chipmaker last July asked the body to block the import of such equipment and implement a U.S. sales ban in a bid to force a settlement. (BOLD MINE)
    Ummm what does a modem have to do with graphics processing? A modem specifically deals entirely with packets and literally doesn't care about what those packets represent. Even if that data is movies or images all it does is transmit those packets it's up to the computer to assemble those packets into something it can understand. Therefore how could Intel infringe on a patent that it most likely isn't using at all?
    If I understand correctly the ITC complaint doesn't involve only modems. The reason it seems like that's the case is because if Qualcomm modems are being used with the proper license it also includes royalties for other Qualcomm IP, or at least Qualcomm looks the other way which is what they're doing in this complaint. Qualcomm is only asserting certain other patents against the Intel-equipped handsets even if they might also apply to the Qualcomm modem ones.

    In any event it may be a Qualcomm battery patent infringed by Apple that gets an exclusion order. In fact the ITC recommends one. It's up to the ITC judge whether to follow the staff ecommendation but they typically do. Apple dodged one few years ago, saved by Obama. Same thing might happen here if an import ban is ordered. Perhaps that's what Cook and Trump were discussing recently? If so I'd imagine Trump will want something in return. 
    edited June 17 IreneW
  • Reply 12 of 16
    gatorguy said:
    Brought in front of an ITC judge, Qualcomm's complaint alleges iPhone and iPad models powered by Intel cellular modems are in infringement of owned patents relating to various mobile technologies including carrier aggregation, graphics processing and signal amplification. The chipmaker last July asked the body to block the import of such equipment and implement a U.S. sales ban in a bid to force a settlement. (BOLD MINE)
    Ummm what does a modem have to do with graphics processing? A modem specifically deals entirely with packets and literally doesn't care about what those packets represent. Even if that data is movies or images all it does is transmit those packets it's up to the computer to assemble those packets into something it can understand. Therefore how could Intel infringe on a patent that it most likely isn't using at all?
    If I understand correctly the ITC complaint doesn't involve only modems. The reason it seems like that's the case is because if Qualcomm modems are being used with the proper license it also includes royalties for other Qualcomm IP, or at least Qualcomm looks the other way which is what they're doing in this complaint. Qualcomm is only asserting certain other patents against the Intel-equipped handsets even if they might also apply to the Qualcomm modem ones.

    In any event it may be a Qualcomm battery patent infringed by Apple that gets an exclusion order. In fact the ITC recommends one. It's up to the ITC judge whether to follow the staff ecommendation but they typically do. Apple dodged one few years ago, saved by Obama. Same thing might happen here if an import ban is ordered. Perhaps that's what Cook and Trump were discussing recently? If so I'd imagine Trump will want something in return. 
    If that’s the case then I could imagine Intel coming back and saying “Well actually we’ve been doing graphics and data longer than you and we feel that you’re infringing on patents that we have and we’ll countersue”.

    Hell, I could see NVIDIA and AMD having a go as well. And considering Apple co-founded ARM it seems Apple has some counter patents that prove Qualcomm has nothing but FRAND patents which is entirely what this battle is all about in the first place. Given that Apple brings more money to America (despite worldwide taxes) than Qualcomm it seems odd to me that any legal mind would ever side with Qualcomm but dumber things have prevailed before when it comes to Apple.

    Incidentally if I was Apple I’d short Qualcomm’s stock then buy controlling shares and then tell Qualcomm what to do. 
  • Reply 13 of 16
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 586editor
    rob53 said:
    elijahg said:
    The ever impartial Lucy Koh again?
    Judge Koh is not an ITC judge. 

    As for the US ITC staff siding with Qualcomm, it doesn't really make sense with all the other government fines and actions against them. Qualcomm is a monopoly that is keeping anyone else from competing. Intel has started to try and compete but this is recent.
    Yes, but wouldn't that be a different case? Monopoly is pursued by DOJ anti-trust, I thought.
  • Reply 14 of 16
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 586editor
    Brought in front of an ITC judge, Qualcomm's complaint alleges iPhone and iPad models powered by Intel cellular modems are in infringement of owned patents relating to various mobile technologies including carrier aggregation, graphics processing and signal amplification. The chipmaker last July asked the body to block the import of such equipment and implement a U.S. sales ban in a bid to force a settlement. (BOLD MINE)
    Ummm what does a modem have to do with graphics processing? A modem specifically deals entirely with packets and literally doesn't care about what those packets represent. Even if that data is movies or images all it does is transmit those packets it's up to the computer to assemble those packets into something it can understand. Therefore how could Intel infringe on a patent that it most likely isn't using at all?
    Patents are written with a balance of specificity and broadness, with as many claims as possible, so that if some claim gets invalidated, the rest of the patent still stands. Who knows what claim got written into a graphics processing patent that has an application here, and got rolled into this?
  • Reply 15 of 16
    Qualcomm surely has some friends in high places in the US, they're already taking a battering in every other country around the world except at home. The tough choice for the legislators however is the other party is also a US-based company (Apple) with allegedly infringing parts from another US-based company (Intel). The phrase, biting the hand that feeds, comes to mind.
  • Reply 16 of 16
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 16,899member
    Right, like they are going to ban iPhone imports.  Good luck with that.  
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