Apple And Qualcomm Both Score Legal Victories Ahead Of Big April Courtroom Showdown

Apple is both a winner and a loser in its legal tiff with Qualcomm, one that primarily involves patents and whether or not the iPhone maker infringed on IP owned by the latter. A United States judge has ruled that Apple did indeed infringe on certain patents, and not on others. More importantly, however, the judge also issued an import ban on some iPhone models into the US.

The silver lining for Apple, as it applies to the ban, is that the decision could change pending further review by the International Trade Commission (ITC).

"A complete recommendation on remedy and bond will be forthcoming together with findings of fact and an analysis of the effects of the public interest factors on the issue of remedy ... However, it should be noted that I will be recommending that a limited exclusion order together with a cease and desist order, both with certification provisions, issue against Apple," ITC Judge MaryJoan McNamara wrote in her judgement.

Judge McNamara agreed with Qualcomm that Apple infringed on a patent (US Patent No. 8,063,674) relating to power management in its mobile devices, which is intended to improve battery life. That is where the partial ban comes into play. At the same time, Judge McNamara found Apple did not infringe on certain other patents that have to do with low noise amplifiers (US Patent No. 9,154,356 and US Patent No. 9,473,336), and deemed some of Qualcomm's patent claims invalid.

Earlier this year, a different ITC judge found that Apple violated another Qualcomm patent, but did not issue a ban on imports. Following up on that, the ITC determined in a separate ruling yesterday that Qualcomm's patents claims were invalid, therefore there could be no patent violations on the three claims. Qualcomm intends to appeal the ruling.

"The Commission’s decision is inconsistent with the recent unanimous jury verdict finding infringement of the same patent after Apple abandoned its invalidity defense at the end of trial," Qualcomm said in a statement. "We will seek reconsideration by the Commission in view of the jury verdict."

As it relates to the second ruling, Apple had a different take on the situation, naturally.

"We’re pleased the ITC has found Qualcomm’s latest patent claims invalid, it’s another important step to making sure American companies are able to compete fairly in the marketplace," Apple said in a statement. "Qualcomm is using these cases to distract from having to answer for the real issues, their monopolistic business practices."

Apple still faces an important ban, though, because of the first ruling. The complaint originally pointed to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models, but it is not clear which specific devices will be banned.