Supreme Court Tells Apple To Take A Hike In Qualcomm Patent Dispute

iphone watch
Apple has been denied hearings by the Supreme Court over two Qualcomm patents that were part of lawsuits filed in 2017. Apple requested the hearings to potentially invalidate the two patents, which played a major role in Qualcomm's 2017 attempt to ban iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watch sales.

Qualcomm and Apple duked it out in court several years ago concerning what Qualcomm considered patent infringements by Apple. A jury in the U.S. District Court for the South District of California ended up finding that a number of iPhone models (iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X) did in fact infringe in varying degrees on three Qualcomm patents. Apple was ordered to pay Qualcomm $31 million dollars, which probably did not even cover the legal fees the company incurred.

While that should have been the end of the legal battle, Apple was still concerned it may once again be sued over two patents that it argued should be invalid. The Patent and Trademark Office's Patent Trial and Appeal Board found in favor of Qualcomm following the 2019 court decision, so Apple turned to the Federal Circuit court for help.

apple products
Image Credit: Jess Bailey from Pixabay

The Federal Circuit court rejected Apple's request for an appeal last April, based on the 2019 settlement which covered thousands of patents, including the two in question. The argument Apple presented stated that its royalty payments and risk of being sued again were enough to warrant a hearing.

Apple did not stop there, and appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, where Apple stated Qualcomm could still use the patents in a lawsuit once again when the license expires in 2025, or in 2027 if it is extended. The Department of Justice submitted an amicus brief that rejected the arguments, and asked that the Supreme Court do so as well, which it now has.

The cloud of uncertainty about what either company will do once the licensing deal expires in 2025/2027 will likely remain shrouded in mystery. Apple has been rumored to be working on its own 5G modems, which could replace the Qualcomm modems the company has been using as early as 2023. Those curious of whether or not Apple's fear of future lawsuits will come to fruition will simply have to wait to find out.

Top Image Credit: Florian Schmucker from Pixabay