If you ask Qualcomm, Apple is still selling banned iPhones in Germany. But it sounds like Apple is mulling ideas to actually start doing that in an official capacity.
According to a report from WinFuture, Apple is going over options that would see the company changing a few key, specific parts of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 lineups to resume selling the banned models in Germany. Right now, Apple is banned from selling infringing models of the iPhone lineup in Germany, following a court decision handed down in the region back in December of last year.
Unlike the patent infringement case in China from Qualcomm against Apple, this case in Germany is hardware related. That means if Apple wants to sell these devices in Germany again it needs to make changes there, and not just tweak the software a bit to be within compliance. This report suggests Apple is indeed looking to replace at least one part within the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 with another, which could bring it back into the good graces of the German court system.
The issue in this case is what Qualcomm calls an “envelope tracking” patent (this maintains conserved battery power while the modem in the phone is active), and that’s the one that Apple infringed upon. The hardware supplier that builds the infringing part is Qorvo, and it sounds like Apple may be going a different route to use a non-infringing piece.
When this change will happen, or if it will happen at all, remains to be seen. This is not an easy feat for Apple by any means, but it would give the company a bit of a win in the region. By switching out the infringing piece of the puzzle, it would mean that Apple would not have to pay Qualcomm any more patent licensing fees for those devices. And, of course, the company could start officially selling the handsets in Germany again.