Yesterday, Qualcomm put up €1.34 billion in security bonds in order to enforce a German court ruling in its favor made in late December regarding a bitter patent dispute with Apple. The patents pertained to "power savings technology" used in modern smartphones call envelope tracking.
Today, Apple has been forced to pull its iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 from its own stores in Germany. Apple's German website was the first to boot the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8, but it remains to be seen if/when other retailers will follow suit. For its part, Qualcomm claims that the court order also covers third-party retailers:
Apple was ordered to cease the sale, offer for sale and importation for sale of all infringing iPhones in Germany. The Court also ordered Apple to recall infringing iPhones from third party resellers in Germany.
While Germans won't be able to buy the iPhone 7 or iPhone 8 from Apple Stores, the older (and cheaper) iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S family of smartphones along with the 2018 iPhone family (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR) are still available to purchase, as they are not affected by the sales ban... yet.
Although Apple has not commented on this latest power play by Qualcomm in their patent dispute, the company did issue the following statement last month:
Qualcomm's campaign is a desperate attempt to distract from the real issues between our companies. Their tactics, in the courts and in their everyday business, are harming innovation and harming consumers. Qualcomm insists on charging exorbitant fees based on work they didn't do.
Given that the envelope tracking patent that has sidelined the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 in Germany relates to the Intel-produced LTE modems used in the smartphones, Intel also commented on the matter back on December 20th. "Qualcomm's goal is not to vindicate its intellectual property rights, but rather to drive competition out of the market for premium modem chips, and to defend a business model that ultimately harms consumers," said Intel executive vice president and general counsel Steven R. Rodgers.
Qualcomm has racked up a string of wins against Apple in recent months, including an import/sales ban on iPhones in China. However, Apple skirted that ruling by providing an update to its iOS 12 software.
In other Apple news, the company issues a rare guidance revision for its fiscal Q1 2019 earnings following lower than anticipated iPhone sales. The company now expects a revenue shortfall ranging from $5 billion to $9 billion for the quarter. The warning has sparked a potential class action lawsuit for securities fraud.