The long court novel between Apple and Qualcomm won a new chapter favourable to Apple on Tuesday (5). US Federal Court Judge Dana Sabraw has ruled that the chip maker cannot recover damages before the lawsuit against Apple at the end of 2017. With that, the Cupertino company is able to at least limit the amount to be paid in the process in which it accuses the rival of abusive practices and that act against the competition in the hardware market.
In addition, the same court ruled the lack of validity of a second lawsuit, in which Qualcomm accuses Apple of infringing patents related to graphics processing and energy efficiency systems in its mobile devices. The trial, set to begin in April in the city of San Diego, USA, should be limited to connectivity technologies alone, with opposing arguments being put by the two companies before the jury.
The waiver is linked to the fact that the patenting of patents has already been made by Qualcomm in a lawsuit in which it sought to ban China’s imports of iPhones until such time as royalties were paid. The request was denied in November 2017 by the US International Trade Commission, which initiated an investigation into the case, but released smartphone sales in the United States.
On the one hand, Qualcomm accuses Apple of infringing patents and using its own unauthorized connection technologies since the early years of the iPhone. On the other hand, the company of Cupertino says that the rival uses abusive practices to avoid the performance of competitors. In addition, it questions the mechanics of royalty payments tied to the value of the handsets and their sales totals, not the share of the licensed technologies in the products. The Apple claims that the inventions used do not constitute much of what is inside iPhones, iPads and others, so, hits of this order would be exaggerated.
The main reflection of this dispute was that, since January 2017, Apple has suspended any royalty payments to Qualcomm from its suppliers, which has generated a significant impact on the manufacturer’s revenue. With the court’s ruling, however, the hardware company can no longer receive the amounts owed before the proceedings are opened months after that.
On the other hand, Sabraw gave reason to Qualcomm in an important element, that should open the way for a victory of the manufacturer, even if partial. The judge dismissed Apple’s arguments that one of the allegedly broken technologies, the so-called flashless boot, which allows a cellphone to connect to the Internet simultaneously with the operating system boot, is rather a registered patent and would not be available in manufacturer’s manuals of processors. The route, then, indicates the payment of royalties, at least in relation to this invention.
The lengthy court case between Apple and Qualcomm, which lasted more than two years, is expected to reach one of its most important episodes on March 26, when the United States International Trade Commission is due to present its findings related to the manufacturer’s patents after the investigation started at the end of 2017. Such information should also influence the judgment on the case, which is scheduled for April.
In addition to the issue of the patent breach itself, the judgment should address other issues that are part of the exchange of accusations between the parties, such as possible breach of competition laws and suspension of royalties. Qualcomm also says that by abandoning it as a supplier and choosing Intel , Apple brought along some of its trade secrets and shared them with its rival. The Cupertino company denies it all.