Apple and Qualcomm Both Land Hits in ITC Legal Battles

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Nobody likes to watch a boxing match that ends with a one-hit knockout. That's an impressive feat, sure, but usually we'd rather see a prolonged fight where it's not clear who's going to win. The contest between Apple and Qualcomm is set to fulfill those desires, with the companies trading punches in their ongoing legal battle, as reported by Bloomberg.

A quick recap of the problem: Apple believes Qualcomm charges unfair licensing fees for networking technologies used in the iPhone; Qualcomm thinks Apple violated its patents when it switched some of its iPhones over to Intel's technologies. Both companies have filed dozens of lawsuits in courts around the world.

These lawsuits could have serious consequences for both companies. Apple's sued Qualcomm for $1 billion in both the U.S. and China. Qualcomm has sought to block iPhone imports in the U.S., Germany and other countries. And of course there's the possibility that other companies will pile on with complaints of their own.

The latest consequences were revealed on March 26. Qualcomm scored a small victory in the morning when U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) Judge MaryJoan McNamara decided that she would recommend an import ban on some iPhone models because she believed that Apple had violated one of three Qualcomm patents in the suit.

Later in the day, the ITC invalidated a Qualcomm patent related to a battery-saving feature. The full decision hasn't been made public yet, though, so it's not clear to what extent the regulator has actually sided with Apple over Qualcomm. More information should become available as the case heads to trial in the next month.

But this isn't the kind of legal battle that will be decided in a single case. There are too many lawsuits in too many courts for that to happen, and even when some decisions are reached, neither company seems likely to accept a loss without challenging it first. These are just some of the first of many hits waiting to land.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.