ITC judge recommends partial iPhone ban in Qualcomm patent fight

Posted:
in iPhone edited March 26
A U.S. ITC judge has made the recommendation that Qualcomm is granted its request for an import bank against Apple in the ongoing legal wrangling between the two tech giants, with the ban potentially preventing some models of iPhone from being imported into the United States.




Administrative Law Judge MaryJoan McNamara working for the U.S. International Trade Commission made her decision on Tuesday based on the recent lawsuit ruling where Apple was found to have infringed on Qualcomm's technology patents. As Apple infringed on the patent, the judge said it would be acceptable for Qualcomm to be granted its import ban request.

A "limited exclusion order" and a cease and desist order is recommended against Apple, the filing reveals. A bond is not being recommended during the review period by the judge, as Qualcomm's products "do not directly compete" with the iPhones using the infringing components.

Specifically, the recommendation is being made on just one of three patents claimed by Qualcomm to have been infringed, while the other two were not deemed to have been infringed.

Reuters reports the judge's statement was a recommendation and not binding at this point, as it still needs to be reviewed by the ITC. While it is possible some iPhone models could be banned from being imported and sold in the United States, it is also possible that Qualcomm's request could also be denied by the ITC following review.

Neither Apple nor Qualcomm have commented on the initial determination so far. It also isn't clear which models will be impacted by any ban, which is still months or over a year away, given ITC review timetables.

The recommendation arrives ahead of another ITC decision anticipated to be made later in the day, again relating to a request from Qualcomm to ban some iPhone sales.

A ban in the United States would be an issue for Apple, while it works to avoid similar patent-infringement issues in other countries. Earlier this year in Germany, Apple was subjected to a ban on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 following another Qualcomm legal battle, but Apple avoided the issue by using Qualcomm modems instead of those produced by Intel that caused the ban in the first place.

Apple subsidiaries in China were the victims of two preliminary injunctions in December, effectively banning the import and sale of iPhones running iOS 11 or older versions, again instigated by Qualcomm. The subsidiaries received criticism for seemingly failing to respect the decision of the court, by permitting the sale of models from the iPhone 6S running to the iPhone X.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    I find it mystifying how Qualcomm could think it’s good business to alienate millions of people. Right now, most people still have no idea who or what Qualcomm is. Make iPhones unavailable for even a short period of time and that will change overnight, and not in a good way. 
    edited March 26 bshankwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 13
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 2,052member
    This seems a twisted logic of Apple infringe on Qualcomm patents. Apple uses Qualcomm modem in iPhones. Qualcomm claims its modem has its patents. Qualcomm wants to charge large patent fee to Apple using its modem. Apple refuse to pay the high fees. Then Qualcomm accuses Apple of infringing on its patents. How can this be called infringement? 
    mac_dogwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 13
    I find it mystifying how Qualcomm could think it’s good business to alienate millions of people. Right now, most people still have no idea who or what Qualcomm is. Make iPhones unavailable for even a short period of time and that will change overnight, and not in a good way. 
    But it doesn't matter.  It's not like millions of people are going to boycott them.  Qualcomm doesn't sell to the public.  It's not like other OEM's are going to stop using QC chips.  That ain't happening.  So I'm not really sure what repercussions you think would befall Qualcomm.
  • Reply 4 of 13
    carnegiecarnegie Posts: 736member
    AppleInsider said:..

    Administrative Law Judge MaryJoan McNamara working for the U.S. International Trade Commission made her decision on Tuesday based on the recent lawsuit ruling where Apple was found to have infringed on Qualcomm's technology patents. As Apple infringed on the patent, the judge said it would be acceptable for Qualcomm to be granted its import ban request.

    ...
    I'm not sure what you mean by this passage... that ALJ McNamara's made her decision based on the recent lawsuit ruling?

    To be clear, the patents at issue in this USITC case - to include the one patent which ALJ McNamara determined that Apple infringed - are not the same patents that were at issue in the recent case in the Southern District of California in which the jury found that Apple infringed three of Qualcomm's patents. Those patents from that SD of CA case were involved in a different USITC case, one initially heard by ALJ Pender.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 13
    carnegiecarnegie Posts: 736member

    AppleInsider said:...

    Reuters reports the judge's statement was a recommendation and not binding at this point, as it still needs to be reviewed by the ITC. While it is possible some iPhone models could be banned from being imported and sold in the United States, it is also possible that Qualcomm's request could also be denied by the ITC following review.

    ...
    That's right. In these kinds of USITC cases, the ALJ makes initial determinations with regard to infringement. But the ALJ only makes recommendations with regard to remedy (i.e. exclusion orders and cease and desist orders). The Commission can either review or not review the ALJ's determinations with regard to infringement. But when it comes to remedy, if there is a final determination of infringement, the Commission has to make those decisions itself. The ALJ's recommendation isn't binding on the Commission.

    Then there are, of course, further steps in the process during which the Commission's remedy decisions are reviewed.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 13
    carnegiecarnegie Posts: 736member
    So Qualcomm won on the patent which matters less (as, I believe, Qualcomm only argued that it was infringed by the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus) and lost on the patents which mattered more (as Qualcomm argued that they were infringed by later iPhone models).

    By won, I mean that the ALJ made a final initial determination that Apple infringed one of the asserted claims of the '674 patent. The ALJ also determined that Apple didn't infringe the other asserted claim of that patent, that Apple didn't infringe the asserted claim of the '336 patent, and that the asserted claims of the '356 patent are invalid.
    randominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 13
    carnegiecarnegie Posts: 736member

    tzeshan said:
    This seems a twisted logic of Apple infringe on Qualcomm patents. Apple uses Qualcomm modem in iPhones. Qualcomm claims its modem has its patents. Qualcomm wants to charge large patent fee to Apple using its modem. Apple refuse to pay the high fees. Then Qualcomm accuses Apple of infringing on its patents. How can this be called infringement? 
    To the extent the patent in question (i.e. the '674 patent) is substantially embodied in modems which Qualcomm sold, you're right, Apple wouldn't be infringing on that patent.

    But the '674 patent, as I understand it, doesn't relate solely to modems. The assertion (I believe) is that the iPhones in question, and not (or not just) the modems within them, infringe that patent.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 13
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,302member
    carnegie said:
    So Qualcomm won on the patent which matters less (as, I believe, Qualcomm only argued that it was infringed by the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus) and lost on the patents which mattered more (as Qualcomm argued that they were infringed by later iPhone models).

    By won, I mean that the ALJ made a final initial determination that Apple infringed one of the asserted claims of the '674 patent. The ALJ also determined that Apple didn't infringe the other asserted claim of that patent, that Apple didn't infringe the asserted claim of the '336 patent, and that the asserted claims of the '356 patent are invalid.
    The final ruling expected tomorrow in the previous case where an exclusion order was also recommended is the one of more immediate importance. This one may take another 3 or more months to shake out. 

    TBH I'm a little surprised at the recommendations being essentially the same in both cases before them, and the one expected tomorrow could affect the 8 series too?
  • Reply 9 of 13
    carnegiecarnegie Posts: 736member
    gatorguy said:
    carnegie said:
    So Qualcomm won on the patent which matters less (as, I believe, Qualcomm only argued that it was infringed by the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus) and lost on the patents which mattered more (as Qualcomm argued that they were infringed by later iPhone models).

    By won, I mean that the ALJ made a final initial determination that Apple infringed one of the asserted claims of the '674 patent. The ALJ also determined that Apple didn't infringe the other asserted claim of that patent, that Apple didn't infringe the asserted claim of the '336 patent, and that the asserted claims of the '356 patent are invalid.
    The final ruling expected tomorrow in the previous case where an exclusion order was also recommended is the one of more immediate importance. This one may take another 3 or more months to shake out. 

    TBH I'm a little surprised at the recommendations being essentially the same in both cases before them, and the one expected tomorrow could affect the 8 series too?
    What other case are you referring to? This one, the one which was heard by ALJ Pender? I don't know of any other open USITC cases.

    If so, ALJ Pender recommended against an exclusion order. And I'd be very surprised if an exclusion order resulted from that case, even if the infringement finding stands.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 13
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,302member
    carnegie said:
    gatorguy said:
    carnegie said:
    So Qualcomm won on the patent which matters less (as, I believe, Qualcomm only argued that it was infringed by the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus) and lost on the patents which mattered more (as Qualcomm argued that they were infringed by later iPhone models).

    By won, I mean that the ALJ made a final initial determination that Apple infringed one of the asserted claims of the '674 patent. The ALJ also determined that Apple didn't infringe the other asserted claim of that patent, that Apple didn't infringe the asserted claim of the '336 patent, and that the asserted claims of the '356 patent are invalid.
    The final ruling expected tomorrow in the previous case where an exclusion order was also recommended is the one of more immediate importance. This one may take another 3 or more months to shake out. 

    TBH I'm a little surprised at the recommendations being essentially the same in both cases before them, and the one expected tomorrow could affect the 8 series too?
    What other case are you referring to? This one, the one which was heard by ALJ Pender? I don't know of any other open USITC cases.

    If so, ALJ Pender recommended against an exclusion order. And I'd be very surprised if an exclusion order resulted from that case, even if the infringement finding stands.
    https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=fed964ee-3353-4aff-8e4a-31d7835f7708
    You are correct, Pender found there was infringement yet still suggested there be no remedy allowed which is pretty unusual. Thanks for pointing it out, I hadn't recalled the specifics correctly.

    EDIT The ruling is in re:the second cse. Apple is off the hook, patent ruled invalid. :)
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-26/apple-escapes-import-ban-in-2nd-qualcomm-case-at-trade-agency
    edited March 26
  • Reply 11 of 13
    I find it mystifying how Qualcomm could think it’s good business to alienate millions of people. Right now, most people still have no idea who or what Qualcomm is. Make iPhones unavailable for even a short period of time and that will change overnight, and not in a good way. 
    But it doesn't matter.  It's not like millions of people are going to boycott them.  Qualcomm doesn't sell to the public.  It's not like other OEM's are going to stop using QC chips.  That ain't happening.  So I'm not really sure what repercussions you think would befall Qualcomm.
    I don’t know, you’re probably right, but I think it’s foolish nonetheless— for example, it’s possible those other OEMs might not be quite so easy to bully if Qualcomm is widely viewed by the public as a sort of pariah.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 13
    carnegiecarnegie Posts: 736member
    gatorguy said:
    carnegie said:
    gatorguy said:
    carnegie said:
    So Qualcomm won on the patent which matters less (as, I believe, Qualcomm only argued that it was infringed by the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus) and lost on the patents which mattered more (as Qualcomm argued that they were infringed by later iPhone models).

    By won, I mean that the ALJ made a final initial determination that Apple infringed one of the asserted claims of the '674 patent. The ALJ also determined that Apple didn't infringe the other asserted claim of that patent, that Apple didn't infringe the asserted claim of the '336 patent, and that the asserted claims of the '356 patent are invalid.
    The final ruling expected tomorrow in the previous case where an exclusion order was also recommended is the one of more immediate importance. This one may take another 3 or more months to shake out. 

    TBH I'm a little surprised at the recommendations being essentially the same in both cases before them, and the one expected tomorrow could affect the 8 series too?
    What other case are you referring to? This one, the one which was heard by ALJ Pender? I don't know of any other open USITC cases.

    If so, ALJ Pender recommended against an exclusion order. And I'd be very surprised if an exclusion order resulted from that case, even if the infringement finding stands.
    https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=fed964ee-3353-4aff-8e4a-31d7835f7708
    You are correct, Pender found there was infringement yet still suggested there be no remedy allowed which is pretty unusual. Thanks for pointing it out, I hadn't recalled the specifics correctly.

    EDIT The ruling is in re:the second cse. Apple is off the hook, patent ruled invalid. :)
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-26/apple-escapes-import-ban-in-2nd-qualcomm-case-at-trade-agency
    You're welcome.

    The Commission determined that claim 31 of the '490 patent (the only one left in play in that case) was invalid.


    EDIT: Lol. I didn't notice when I quoted your post that you had already edited it to reflect the Commission's decision. Sorry.
    edited March 26 watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 13
    I find it mystifying how Qualcomm could think it’s good business to alienate millions of people. Right now, most people still have no idea who or what Qualcomm is. Make iPhones unavailable for even a short period of time and that will change overnight, and not in a good way. 
    But it doesn't matter.  It's not like millions of people are going to boycott them.  Qualcomm doesn't sell to the public.  It's not like other OEM's are going to stop using QC chips.  That ain't happening.  So I'm not really sure what repercussions you think would befall Qualcomm.
    I don’t know, you’re probably right, but I think it’s foolish nonetheless— for example, it’s possible those other OEMs might not be quite so easy to bully if Qualcomm is widely viewed by the public as a sort of pariah.
    I get the sentiment you're going for here.  It's just not realistic.  Business is business.  Whether or not Qualcomm has a bad public perception really doesn't mean anything from a business perspective.  Heck, if you want a perfect example of just how much a company's reputation doesn't affect it's business prospects, look no further than yesterday's announcement of an Apple credit card through Goldman Sachs.  GS is the poster child for being a pariah.  Yet, judging by the comments on multiple threads, appleinsder forum members really don't care that much.  GS is a much worse organization than Qualcomm could ever be, so I don't think QC would suffer any adverse effects from a bit of dislike from a small segment of the public.  Plus our collective attention spans are about as long an "amnesiatic: goldfish.  We'll be mad at something else in short order.
    watto_cobra
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