San Francisco: To find a solution to the protracted legal battle between Apple and Qualcomm, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) will start an investigation into the chip-maker’s claims that Apple violated its patents in devices like the iPhone 7.
According to a report in Forbes on Tuesday, Qualcomm asked the ITC to stop further sales of iPhones equipped with cellular baseband modem processors made by rival chip-producer Intel.
The mobile-phone chip-maker claimed that Apple violated potentially six of its patents in how it uses the Intel modems.
“Qualcomm is pleased with the ITC’s decision to investigate Apple’s unfair trade practices and the unauthorised importation of products using Qualcomm’s patents,” the report quoted Don Rosenberg, General Counsel, Qualcomm, as saying.
“We look forward to the ITC’s expeditious investigation of Apple’s ongoing infringement of our intellectual property and the accelerated relief that the Commission can provide,” Rosenberg added.
The trade agency said it will make a determination “at the earliest practicable time”.
The Computer and Communications Industry Association, which represents several tech companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon, lodged a formal letter with the ITC in July that Qualcomm’s proposed import ban on foreign-assembled iPhones using Intel chips would cause “significant shocks to supply” for the wider smartphone market.
It was followed by Intel’s standalone declaration supporting Apple. The declaration asserted that Qualcomm maintained a monopoly over the chip market through “anticompetitive practices”.
Apple began using Intel cellular modems for some versions of the iPhone 7 launched last year, with the remaining supplied by Qualcomm.
Apple continues to reassert claims it made in its lawsuit against Qualcomm, saying “the chipmaker supplies Apple with a single connectivity component, but for years has been demanding a percentage of the total cost of our products — effectively taxing Apple’s innovation”.
The global chip-maker had filed a new patent infringement lawsuit against Apple a few months back and now expects an ‘out of court’ settlement with the Cupertino-based iPhone maker.
Qualcomm had lodged a complaint with the ITC requesting ban on import and domestic sales of iPhone and iPad models produced outside of the US.
More specifically, the chip-maker seeks an exclusion order that applies only to handsets that implement wireless modems made by Intel. Apple first began sourcing Intel modems with the iPhone 7 model last year.
Apple responded to Qualcomm’s claims of six infringements and demand for ban on foreign-made Apple devices, saying the company had tried to negotiate before suing and that Qualcomm is abusing its position.
Stating that its third quarter results were negatively impacted by Apple’s contract manufacturers not paying royalties, chip giant Qualcomm reported its revenue declined 11 per cent over the previous year.