Jury Finds Apple Owes Qualcomm $31.6M in Patent Dispute

According to a federal jury in a U.S. District Court San Diego, Apple infringed on three Qualcomm patents and owes the chipmaker about $31.6 million. Qualcomm filed the lawsuit in 2018, claiming that Apple violated patents related to graphics processing and improving the battery life of mobile devices. During the eight-day trial, Qualcomm asked for unpaid patent royalties involving the iPhones that infringed on its patents. The decision marks the latest in an ongoing legal battle and series of lawsuits between the two tech companies. Next month, the companies will head to court over antitrust claims by Apple.

“Apple has accused Qualcomm of engaging in illegal patent practices to protect a dominant position in the chip market, and Qualcomm has accused Apple of using its technology without compensation,” reports The New York Times. “To date, Qualcomm has won sales bans on iPhones in Germany and China.”

However, while U.S. regulators recently determined some iPhones infringed on a Qualcomm patent, they opted not to ban importing to the U.S., “citing the damage such a move would inflict on … rival Intel.”

“Apple has switched to using Intel chips in its phones,” explains Bloomberg. Apple “has accused Qualcomm of using its control over so-called standard essential patents, which covers technology uniformly adopted by telecommunications providers and equipment makers, to extract excessive royalties for the entire patent portfolio, including non-essential patents, that it licenses to smartphone makers.”

The “unanimous jury verdict is the latest victory in our worldwide patent litigation directed at holding Apple accountable for using our valuable technologies without paying for them,” said Qualcomm general counsel Don Rosenberg in response to Friday’s decision. “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’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,” countered Apple spokesperson Josh Rosenstock.

The companies are prepping for a much larger legal battle next month when the antitrust suit filed by Apple two years ago goes to trial. “It challenges the foundation of Qualcomm’s business model of licensing its patents to mobile device makers and selling them chips,” notes NYT. “The verdict on Friday could come into play in that case because it puts a per-phone dollar figure on some of Qualcomm’s intellectual property.”

Qualcomm Can’t Get Back the Billions It Paid Apple, Judge Rules, CNET, 3/14/19
U.S. Judge Rules Qualcomm Owes Apple Nearly $1 Billion Rebate Payment, CNBC, 3/14/19