Apple Violated 3 Qualcomm Patents, Jury Finds

REUTERS2019-03-15 21:25:24

Qualcomm won a legal victory against Apple on Friday when a federal jury in San Diego found that Apple owed the mobile phone chip supplier about $31 million for infringing on three of its patents.

Qualcomm sued Apple last year, accusing it of violating patents related to improving mobile phones’ battery life.

During an eight-day trial in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, Qualcomm asked the jury to award it unpaid patent royalties of up to $1.41 per iPhone that violated the patents.

“The technologies invented by Qualcomm and others are what made it possible for Apple to enter the market and become so successful so quickly,” Don Rosenberg, Qualcomm’s general counsel, said in a statement.

Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., said in a statement that it was disappointed with the outcome.

“Qualcomm’s ongoing campaign of patent infringement claims is nothing more than an attempt to distract from the larger issues they face with investigations into their business practices in U.S. federal court, and around the world,” Apple said.

The case is part of a series of lawsuits between the companies. Apple has accused Qualcomm of engaging in illegal patent practices to protect a dominant position in the chip market, and Qualcomm has accused Apple of using its technology without compensation.

To date, Qualcomm has won sales bans on iPhones in Germany and China, though the Chinese ban has not been enforced and Apple has taken steps it believes allow it to resume sales in Germany.

Qualcomm also suffered a setback when United States trade regulators found that some iPhones infringed on one of the company’s patents. They declined to bar their importation into the United States, however, citing the damage such a move would inflict on its rival Intel.

The companies’ legal battle will reach a crescendo in April, when an antitrust suit filed by Apple in early 2017 heads to trial. It challenges the foundation of Qualcomm’s business model of licensing its patents to mobile device makers and selling them chips.

The verdict on Friday could come into play in that case because it puts a per-phone dollar figure on some of Qualcomm’s intellectual property. Qualcomm’s patent licensing model relies on charging phone makers a cut of the selling price of the phone, a practice Apple has called unfair and illegal.

In an earlier trial, Apple executives outlined the company’s extensive negotiations to reduce those license fees to $7.50 per phone for Qualcomm’s patents.

The jury in San Diego valued just three of Qualcomm’s patents in the company’s portfolio at $1.41, a figure that the chip supplier believes supports its contention that its licensing practices are fair.

“The three patents found to be infringed in this case represent just a small fraction of Qualcomm’s valuable portfolio of tens of thousands of patents,” Mr. Rosenberg said in a statement.


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