Major Qualcomm v. Apple Patent Case Heads to Trial Today

In 2017, Qualcomm filed a patent lawsuit against Apple for infringing on three of its patents in iPhones that featured an Intel modem. The move came as retaliation to Apple suing Qualcomm. Two years, later, the case is finally headed to trial in the San Diego federal court.

The six patents relate to GPU architecture and battery power conversation techniques like envelope tracking and quickly reducing power consumption of the baseband while playing games.

The proceedings are expected to last for two weeks. If Qualcomm ends up winning the case, it would mean Apple would have to pay it billions of dollars. Qualcomm is asking for $1.41 in damages per iPhone unit sold featuring an Intel chip between mid-2017 and fall 2018. Apple has not disclosed yet as to how many iPhones it has sold during this period featuring an Intel modem.

In a separate case, the U.S. International Trade Commission has already found Apple guilty of violating one of the said patents. However, that decision is unlikely to affect this case in any manner whatsoever

For its part, Apple argues that Qualcomm’s licensing rates for its patent portfolio are unfair and monopolistic in nature. The feud between the two companies has led to Apple completely switching to Intel for its baseband requirements in its devices.

This legal trial starts ahead of a major antitrust case from Apple going to trial in April. In the case, Apple alleges that Qualcomm’s business practices are unfair and monopolistic in nature thereby blocking competition.

Our Take

The legal battle between the two companies started after Apple complained to the FTC about Qualcomm’s unfair business practices and sued it for withholding $1 billion in royalty rebates. Since then, both companies have sued them in multiple countries, with Qualcomm managing to win a sales ban on selected iPhone models in China and Germany. However, the win came using other software patents related to the UI/UX behavior.

The real battle between the two companies will start from now as this patent trial will decide the value of Qualcomm’s patents and technological innovations, something which the San Diego chipmaker has been shouting about for a long time.

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