Apple Will Stop Selling iPhone 7 and 8 in Germany

Posted on December 20, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Apple, iOS with 27 Comments

Qualcomm has won another patent-infringement injunction against Apple, this time in Germany. As a result, Apple will stop selling its iPhone 7 and 8 handsets in that country.

“Qualcomm’s campaign is a desperate attempt to distract from the real issues between our companies,” an Apple statement explains. “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 and they are being investigated by governments all around the world for their behavior. We are of course disappointed by this verdict and we plan to appeal … During the appeal process, iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models will not be available at Apple’s 15 retail stores in Germany. iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR will remain available in all our stores.”

The German sales ban is for iPhones models that use Intel and Qorvo components which infringe on Qualcomm patents. This is the second major iPhone sales ban for the firm: A China-based court has banned the sale of all iPhones in that country, but Apple has yet to comply beyond updating its iOS software.


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Comments (27)

27 responses to “Apple Will Stop Selling iPhone 7 and 8 in Germany”

  1. Daekar

    Ouch. Have one country ban sales, that looks bad. Have two ban sales, it's harder to claim that it's a miscarriage of justice.

  2. wocowboy

    Apple should just give up and do what must be done, which is raise the price of all iPhones $500 to pay royalties on the patents Qualcomm holds. That will take care of it. Qualcomm holds patents on everything any cellphone does, from whether there is a click or not and the sound of that click and force needed to push the Power button to what happens when the screen lights up, and must be paid a percentage of the purchase price for each and every one of those patents for any manufacturer to be able to sell a phone anywhere on the planet. Qualcomm did and does not design, engineer, or manufacture ANY of these patents or devices, but they hold them and therefore must be paid at least half the price of every device manufactured and sold anywhere on the planet. (all said with tongue firmly planted in cheek)

  3. markbyrn

    Not only are they having to stop phones here and there but the bungling Mr. Cook is issuing useless iOS updates just to play cat & mouse legal games with Qualcomm.

    • zybch

      In reply to markbyrn:

      To say nothing of him reintroducing the very problems that Jobs fixed when he returned, far far too many models which confused customers and made a mess of the supply chain, something Cook is supposed to be an expert at.

  4. MikeGalos

    Odd how Apple seems to keep losing patent infringement lawsuits. Why it's as if they've had an internal policy of "Ignore patent issues, we'll just overpower them in court with our legal team. After all, we pay them whether we use them or not so we might as well use them."

    • Oreo

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      Apple has not lost the suit, but Qualcomm has received an injunction and Apple had to suspend sales. And Qualcomm had to post a bond of almost €670 million, a not-insignificant amount of money.

      Qualcomm wants to double-dip here, and especially they want their licensing fee based on the sales price of the iPhone rather than the sales price of the component in question.

      • Andi

        In reply to Oreo:

        "Qualcomm wants to double-dip here, and especially they want their licensing fee based on the sales price of the iPhone rather than the sales price of the component in question."

        This is normal in the cellular world and has been so for a long time. Further more Apple does not have deals with Qualcomm it is Foxconn. Foxconn pays on behalf of Apple(and everybody else).

        • Oreo

          In reply to Andi:

          No, it has not been normal in the cellular world, because patents essential to cellular standards are subject to FRAND licensing terms. And double dipping is not part of that.

          Also, who is being sued depends on the venue, Qualcomm is engaged in litigation all over the globe against Apple (directly or indirectly).

          It is helpful to look at this case more broadly and not let your like or dislike of Apple dictate which way you lean. Samsung and Intel have levied similar accusations against Qualcomm (e. g. in an FTC filing). Qualcomm‘s strategy is to strong arm other companies to the negotiating table by succeeding somewhere legally. Even a temporary injunction can cost the other companies billions.

          • Andi

            In reply to Oreo:

            Apple does not decide what is FRAND and what is not FRAND. FRAND patents are voluntarily submitted by Qualcomm and the like. The FRAND rate is also something that Apple does not establish; we only know that Apple questions it.

            Receiving a percentage of the device is how cellular devices have been democratized. Lower priced devices have been subsidized by higher priced devices and this is how the world has gone mobile before Apple even made a cellular device.

            Qualcomm can receive royalties(at FRAND rate) over cellular patents and can receive royalties over chip design and all kinds of other stuff that does not fall under FRAND. Just because Apple claims something does not mean it is true(aka double dipping).

            Samsung is now friends with Qualcomm and no longer support Apple in its fight. Intel is a fierce monopolist itself(and QComm competitor) having thrown AMD under the bus a little over a decade ago.

            My take. Qualcomm is a monopolist in the sense that it is making use of bundling to force SoC sales with its cellular patents. They need to be struck down hard and here is where they are on the receiving end on multiple venues around the world. Hopefully once this is over Samsung can sell Exynos SoCs in the USA without being gouged by QComm for not using SD chips.

            Where I stand with QComm is on the royalties front. As long as it falls under FRAND they can charge a percentage of the device.

    • dontbe evil

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      irony was their main weapon, fight on "their" patents … now suddenly became silly

  5. madthinus

    Just remember, this little tick for tact was started by Apple when they stopped paying royalties they where contractually obligated to pay. So this is the fallout from that decision.

  6. wright_is

    Not good. Most of our employees use iPhones, but the 7 is the only one that falls in their budget...

  7. Bob Shutts

    Interesting that it is components made by 3rd parties that are infringing in this case.

    • MikeGalos

      In reply to Bob_Shutts:

      No. It's Apple's use of those components in ways that violate the patent without paying a licensing fee.

    • shameermulji

      In reply to Bob_Shutts:

      I agree. Qualcomm should be going after Intel since they're the ones apparently infringing on the patents, not Apple. Apple's beef with Qualcomm has to do with over-paying for royalties. Not only do smartphone makers have to pay for the Qualcomm modem but they also have to pay a percentage of their smartphone sales. That's called double-dipping

      • skane2600

        In reply to shameermulji:

        If Apple didn't like the patent licensing terms, they always had the option of not including technology that Qualcomm patented. At least these patents cover real technology not rounded corners BS .

        • Oreo

          In reply to skane2600:

          I don't think this is what is happening at all: Qorvo, the company that made the component that Qualcomm claims infringes on its patents, is already paying Qualcomm licensing fees. However, these are computed according to the cost of the component, which are much, much, much lower than the sales price of an iPhone.

          Instead, Qualcomm demands a licensing payment from Apple directly in addition to the fees it receives from Qorvo, which will be computed from the sales price of the iPhones. Although Qualcomm kindly offered to cap that at $500, later $400. This is called double dipping.

          Given the complexity of modern smartphones and Qualcomm's position in the cell radio market, I would be surprised if it couldn't lay claims against all other competitors, because you need to find (potentially different) solutions to the same problem. So without disclosing how you solve the same problem, I think you can make a reasonable claim that your competitor is violating your IP.

  8. skane2600

    If the patent office suspended all patent applications for 10 years it would only increase innovation. Ever since corporations became involved the intent behind patents have been subverted. For the most part the inventors don't own the patents their work is based on. Patent holders should have a deadline to implement their ideas in a product or lose the patent. The intent was always to give inventors a temporary monopoly to profit from their ideas, not to merely block other people from using the ideas.

    • Oreo

      In reply to skane2600:

      Yes, I agree, and in an ideal world, I would scrap the idea of patents. Patents nowadays are way too broad and mostly used in numbers. But we are not there yet.

      What is upsetting in this case is that it neatly wraps up many of the worst sides of the current patent system: (1) It is worldwide, i. e. you need to find a court somewhere. (2) FRAND is being ignored. (3) As is double dipping. (4) The biggest guy in the market (here, Qualcomm) uses it as leverage against competition.

      I reckon this is one of the reasons why Apple so far hasn't brought its own cell modem to market.

  9. Winner

    If their attempt was so desperate, they wouldn't be winning.

  10. dontbe evil

    justice… apple like to fight with patents, this time someone else use the same weapon

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