Apple is Guilty of Infringing on Three Qualcomm Patents

Posted on March 16, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Apple, Hardware, Mobile, iOS, Android with 16 Comments

Qualcomm has won an important legal victory as part of its multi-tiered legal battle against Apple: The Cupertino consumer electronics giant was found to have violated three Qualcomm patents and must pay the first $31 million in damages.

“The technologies invented by Qualcomm and others are what made it possible for Apple to enter the market and become so successful so quickly,” Qualcomm general counsel Don Rosenberg said in a statement. “We are gratified that courts all over the world are rejecting Apple’s strategy of refusing to pay for the use of our IP.”

Apple wasn’t quite as pleased with the verdict.

“Qualcomm’s ongoing campaign of patent infringement claims is nothing more than an attempt to distract from the larger issues they face with investigations into their business practices in U.S. federal court, and around the world,” an Apple statement notes.  I will simply point out how the Apple statement here mirrors Apple’s rebuttal of Spotify’s complaints in that it redirects the conversation to another topic. In other words, Apple knows exactly what it did there.

Which is this: Apple stole Qualcomm-patented technologies for use in iPhones and other mobile devices and did so without compensating the inventor of those technologies.

Worse, a former Apple engineer who was going to testify that it was he who invented a key idea for one of Qualcomm’s patented technologies reversed course during the trial and refused to take the stand after it became clear that there was no evidence to support the claim.

Aside from the specifics of the outcome and the paltry $31 million payment that Apple must make—chump change for a company with Apple’s resources—this case does, in fact, represent a major turning point in the two companies’ legal battles because it puts a per-device dollar figure on Qualcomm’s intellectual property: The three patented components represent about $1.41 per device, which Qualcomm says debunks Apple’s claim that its licensing fees are too high.

“The three patents found to be infringed in this case represent just a small fraction of Qualcomm’s valuable portfolio of tens of thousands of patents,” Mr. Rosenberg added.

Apple and Qualcomm have other court cases to come, including a trial that is scheduled for April. That case involves Apple’s dispute over Qualcomm’s licensing costs.

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Comments (16)

16 responses to “Apple is Guilty of Infringing on Three Qualcomm Patents”

  1. christian.hvid

    This deflection technique seems vaguely familiar... I wonder if Tim Apple has spent too much time in the White House?

  2. locust infested orchard inc

    As Paul points out, the $31 million is nothing but loose change down the back of Apple's sofa (or should that be the $12000 seating made by Poltrona Frau at Cupertino's HQ).

    I would rather have the presiding judge ban the offending models of the iPhone in the US, until Apple can demonstrate their contriteness by modifying those devices, thereby expunging them from the violation of Qualcomm's patents.

    That would have a far greater impact than any financial penalty can possible hope to achieve.

    • provision l-3

      In reply to locust infested orchard inc:

      The problem with your big idea is that you seem to know nothing about the U.S. legal system, this case or the history of Qualcomm vs. Apple.

      This case was decided by jury not a judge (this was at Qualcomm's request) and as such the jury, not the judge, rules on the penalty. Qualcomm also asked for financial compensation not for the for a ban so a product ban wasn't even an option for the jury to consider.

      Qualcomm had previously attempted to get an import ban based on these patents but a judge at the ITC ruled against them.

  3. markbyrn

    $31M vs $1B - looks like Apple is a 'tad' ahead in the litigation $ department eh?

  4. Hawaiianteg

    Paul, when are you gonna report on the 1 Billion dollars that qualcomm owes apple per the previous court ruling?

    • ChristopherCollins

      In reply to Hawaiianteg:

      They don't owe them... Apple already withheld that 1 Billion in payment and it's been addressed in previous Qualcomm financial statements.

    • christian.hvid

      In reply to Hawaiianteg:

      In my opinion, reporting that tech company A has sued tech company B over patent infringement is usually a waste of electrons, unless there's a fallout that affects consumers or the industry at large. Perhaps this article is part a broader effort to demonstrate that Apple needs to get its act together, but the case itself doesn't appear to be newsworthy.

      • bart

        In reply to christian.hvid:

        Yet, respond to it?

        • christian.hvid

          In reply to Bart:

          Actually, I was responding to a comment. And of course I don't mind if Paul writes about events that he finds interesting for one reason or another. It's his blog, not mine. But I also believe that whatever happened between Apple and Qualcomm is very much a non-event, and just par for the course.

      • CrownSeven

        In reply to christian.hvid:

        Of course there is fall out. Apple now has to use intel modems which are immature and provide a poor experience. Also having to respond to your comment is more a waste of electrons.

        • christian.hvid

          In reply to CrownSeven:

          Good point, and thank you for wasting a few electrons to bring it up. The discussion here, however, seems to be mainly about who owns what to whom, which is only relevant to the parties involved.

          To be honest, I'm not all that worried about electrons - to my knowledge, they're not an endangered species. But I do worry sometimes about the growing tribalism that compels us to take sides and "root for our team" regardless of whether we understand the issue at hand, and regardless of whether it affects us at all. But I guess that's a discussion for another forum.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to Hawaiianteg:

      He's not going to report on that because it looks favorable to Apple and doesn't line up with his hatred of Apple and its employees. You have to take that in account when you read stories about Apple here.

  5. train_wreck

    Awesome. I’m sure the costs of this patent litigation won’t be passed down to the consumer. That never happens ?

  6. provision l-3

    Weird, there were two Qualcomm v. Apple cases decided last week and you only reported on the one Qualcomm won but skipped over the one were they lost out on billions.

  7. dontbe evil

    Nice to see apple kicked with their own style ... payback time

  8. chrisrut

    Damn. It's like watching Godzilla vs. Rodan...