The majority of Apple's iPhones are manufactured in China, and Qualcomm has filed lawsuits in that country that seek to have production halted and ban all sales. Qualcomm alleges that Apple is infringing upon three non-standard patents, which include the technology that enables Force Touch on the iPhone 6s and later models, and certain power management aspects of the iPhone.
"Apple employs technologies invented by Qualcomm without paying for them," said Qualcomm spokeswoman Christine Trimble. "[These] are a few examples of the many Qualcomm technologies that Apple uses to improve its devices and increase its profits."
Any halt in iPhone production would be absolutely devastating to Apple. At last count, the iPhone family represents roughly two-thirds of Apple's revenue stream. And the timing couldn't be any worse for Apple; the company is still ramping up production of the newly released iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. Apple's future big money maker, however, will no doubt be the iPhone X. With a starting price of $999, Apple will definitely be looking to pad its profits once the smartphone is available to customers on November 3rd.
Apple typically reports blockbuster earnings during the final quarter of the year, since it not only coincides with an uptick in sales due to new-model introductions, but it also marks the peak holiday shopping season.
Earlier this year, Apple filed a $145 million lawsuit against Qualcomm over chip licensing. Qualcomm countersued Apple accusing it of undermining its business operations across the globe. Qualcomm latest sought a U.S. import ban on iPhones and attacked Apple's suppliers with lawsuits. Apple, for its part, sought the help of Microsoft and Google (among others) to fight off Qualcomm's advances. Needless to say, it's starting to get downright ugly.
Qualcomm's actions against Apple come just a day after Taiwan hit the American chip company with a $773 million antitrust ruling. "Qualcomm holds big number of standard essential patents in CDMA, WCDMA and LTE segments and is the dominant provider of CDMA, WCDMA and LTE baseband chips," wrote Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission. "It abused its advantage in mobile communication standards, refused to license necessary patents."
Qualcomm vows to appeal the ruling.
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