Earlier today, a German court ruled that iPhones with Intel modem infringed on a Qualcomm patent and banned the sales of iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 from Apple’s retail store in the country. Josh Landau from Patent Progress has now provided some key details about the hearing and how unfair it was.
He says that while Apple was provided the opportunity to defend itself in a court hearing, it could not produce a piece of key evidence in the court. This included testimony from the chip designer and the schematics of the Qorvo chip itself which Qualcomm claims infringes on its patent. This was not because Apple did not want to present the evidence or chip designer Qorvo was apprehensive of presenting it. In fact, the same evidence was used by Apple in a U.S. ITC cased filed by Qualcomm and the verdict of that hearing was in Apple’s favor.
So why could not Apple bring such important evidence to court? Below is what Josh had to say on this.
In fact, the U.S. ITC, with access to exactly that evidence and testimony, found that the U.S. counterpart patent was not infringed. That was in September.
After that happened, Qualcomm’s European counsel apparently chose not to agree to hold that evidence confidential—even though Qualcomm’s U.S. counsel, from the same firm, had agreed to such conditions. And because they wouldn’t agree to prevent others—particularly Qualcomm’s engineers, who design products that compete with Qorvo’s—from seeing that evidence, it couldn’t be presented to the German courts.
Since Qualcomm refused to hold the evidence confidential, it meant that Qualcomm engineers could access Qorvo’s engineering secrets. By using such a cheap tactic, the company prevented Apple from bringing a key piece of evidence to the court and ended up winning a sales ban on iPhone 7 and iPhone 8.
There’s also a detailed write-up from Landau about this particular case between Apple and Qualcomm in Germany. He notes that in total, Qualcomm accused Apple of infringing on ten of its patents and the German court has only given its verdict on two of the patents that related to the design of the envelope tracking chip. The other eight patents are related to Spotlight search and the Germany court will deliver its verdict on them in late January.