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Apple owes Qualcomm $31M in patents dispute, jury finds

16 March 2019

A jury has decided Apple should pay $31 million in damages for infringing on patents for technology owned by mobile chip maker Qualcomm that helps iPhones quickly connect to the internet and extend their battery life. "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 United States federal court, and around the world", the statement read.

The payments were part of a business cooperation agreement between the two companies amid the peculiar patent licensing practices of the consumer electronics industry. The damages date back to July 6, 2017, when Qualcomm filed its lawsuit, and covers technology used in the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. That case involves Apple's dispute over Qualcomm's licensing costs. US courts have been unwilling to order outright sales bans and favor financial remedies.

'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, ' Rosenberg said in a statement. About 1.4 billion smartphones were sold past year, according to IDC. Despite the award, when you consider the $1 billion that Qualcomm will have to rebate to Apple, the latter ended up approximately $969 million in the black.

But the setting of a per-phone royalty rate for Qualcomm's technology gives the chip supplier a fresh line of attack in its two-year old legal battle with Apple.

Qualcomm said Apple violated that agreement by telling other companies to complain to regulators about similar arrangements.

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Apple has switched to using Intel Inc. chips in its phones.

Qualcomm also suffered a setback with US trade regulators who found that some iPhones infringed one of the San Diego-based company's patents but declined to bar their importation into the United States, citing the damage such a move would inflict on rival Intel Corp.

In yet another dispute, the Federal Trade Commission accused Qualcomm of monopolist business practices, the initial volley in a web of litigation that now spans 3 continents. The trial concluded in San Jose, California, earlier this year, but the judge still hasn't ruled.

Judge Gonzalo Curiel of the US District Court for the Southern District of California on Thursday ruled that Qualcomm, the world's biggest supplier of mobile phone chips, was obligated to pay almost $1 billion (roughly Rs. 7,000 crores) in rebate payments to Apple, which for years used Qualcomm's modem chips to connect iPhones to wireless data networks.

Apple owes Qualcomm $31M in patents dispute, jury finds