Qualcomm Files Lawsuit Seeking Apple iPhone US Import Ban

The ongoing dispute between semiconductor maker Qualcomm and electronics giant Apple over patent infringement claims has reached a boiling point. With the two firms unable to reach any sort of agreement, Qualcomm has asked U.S. trade regulators to ban iPhone imports along with other unnamed products, and to stop the sale of that have already been imported, according to a new lawsuit. Qualcomm has also asked the International Trade Commission (ITC) to launch an investigation into Apple's allegedly infringing devices.

It is Qualcomm's stance that Apple's iPhone devices infringe on half a dozen of its patents. The patents cover critical technologies that run the gamut from enabling high-speed performance in iPhone handsets, to extending battery life.

Image Source: Flickr (Tech.Co)

"Qualcomm’s inventions are at the heart of every iPhone and extend well beyond modem technologies or cellular standards,"  said Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm. "The patents we are asserting represent six important technologies, out of a portfolio of thousands, and each is vital to iPhone functions. Apple continues to use Qualcomm’s technology while refusing to pay for it. These lawsuits seek to stop Apple’s infringement of six of our patented technologies."

Specifically, the patents in question are as follows:

  • US Patent No. 8,487,658: Maximizes smartphone performance while extending battery life by connecting high voltage circuits and low voltage circuits with efficient interfaces. (Issued 2013)
  • US Patent No. 8,633,936: Enables high performance and rich visual graphics for games while increasing a mobile device’s battery life. (Issued 2014)
  • US Patent No. 8,698,558: Extends battery life by building intelligence into the system so the antenna is always using just the right amount of battery power to transmit, whether it be video, text, or voice. (Issued 2014
  • US Patent No. 8,838,949: Enables “flashless boot” which allows your smartphone to connect to the internet quickly after being powered on, while extending battery life and reducing memory size. (Issued 2014)
  • US Patent No. 9,535,490: Enables the applications on your smartphone to get their data to and from the internet quickly and efficiently by acting as a smart “traffic cop” between the apps processor and the modem. (Issued 2017)
  • US Patent No. 9,608,675: Enables a mobile device to send high speed data such as live video from your phone by combining many lanes of traffic into a data super-highway while prolonging battery life. (Issued 2017)
Qualcomm and Apple have been going at each other for several months now. Back in January, Apple sued Qualcomm for "charging royalties for technologies they have nothing to do with." Apple essentially accused Qualcomm of extortion, accusing the chip maker of taking retaliatory steps against it for cooperating with law enforcement authorities in other countries that have filed antitrust litigation against Qualcomm. Apple alleged that Qualcomm withheld $1 billion payments as a result.

Things only got nastier from there. Qualcomm fired back with a lawsuit of its own and further claimed that intentionally crippled its Snapdragon X12 LTE modem in certain version of the iPhone 7 family so that they would perform similarly to the Intel XMM 7360 used in AT&T models.

"They don’t want one version to get the reputation that it is better," said Jan Dawson of advisory firm Jackdaw Research LLC. "If Apple had a guiding principle it’s that they want to make sure customers were having a consistent performance.”

That was in April. Qualcomm stepped things up a month later by suing Apple's iPhone suppliers, including Foxxonn, the largest manufacturer of iPhones and other Apple products.

Qualcomm expects the ITC to begin its investigation into Apple starting in August, with the case going to court sometime next year.