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Qualcomm Seeks To Ban Imports And Sales of Apple iPhones in New Lawsuit (cnbc.com) 129

Chipmaker Qualcomm is asking U.S. trade regulators to ban iPhone imports, according to a new lawsuit. From a report: Apple has allegedly infringed on six of Qualcomm's patents, including technology that improves iPhone battery life, according to Qualcomm. Now Qualcomm wants Apple to pay damages. "Apple continues to use Qualcomm's technology while refusing to pay for it," Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm, said in a statement. Qualcomm ultimately wants regulators to investigate which phones use cellular processors from Qualcomm's competitors, and halt sales of iPhones that violate the patents. Qualcomm said it has filed complaints in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California and with the United States International Trade Commission. It's not immediately clear how many iPhones that would affect.
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Qualcomm Seeks To Ban Imports And Sales of Apple iPhones in New Lawsuit

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  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday July 07, 2017 @12:07PM (#54764235) Journal

    Depends on how credible their claim is, really.

    I suspect this is just a negotiating chip more than anything else, to push Apple into giving them the rent they seek.

    (geddit... chip? I slay me sometimes.)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 07, 2017 @12:35PM (#54764431)

      In fairness, this is the karma train hitting Apple. They tried to pull this same shit with Samsung over goddamn rounded corners.

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
        I'd say that since Samsung used *copied* images from Apple's patents in their design docs....
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Penguinisto ( 415985 )

        Not really - there's a difference between Samsung directly ripping off a design patent, and Apple being sued for buying chips for their phones from someone other than Qualcomm.

        • This. Especially since the chip manufacturer would already have paid Qualcomm to license their technology, otherwise the chip manufacturer would be the one being sued or Apple would be willing to pay Qualcomm directly as part of their agreement with said chip manufacturer.
          • This. Especially since the chip manufacturer would already have paid Qualcomm to license their technology, otherwise the chip manufacturer would be the one being sued or Apple would be willing to pay Qualcomm directly as part of their agreement with said chip manufacturer.

            Exactly!

          • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Friday July 07, 2017 @07:08PM (#54767085) Journal
            Uh, no. I don't know how many chip licenses you've negotiated, I've done more than my fair share. You buy the chips - but the firmware, the stuff that runs inside them - is typically an additional license that must be negotiated and paid for. That's true with Qualcomm, CSR (before Qualcomm bought them), Atmel, Cirrus, Analog Devices, TI, ST and many others... You buy the chip, but you still have to pay for licenses for any embedded firmware you choose to use.
        • > there's a difference between Samsung directly ripping off a design patent, and Apple being sued for buying chips for their phones from someone other than Qualcomm.

          There are Samsung "rounded corner" devices which predate Apple's bullshit "design patent"

      • In fairness, this is the karma train hitting Apple. They tried to pull this same shit with Samsung over goddamn rounded corners.

        Oh, it was a LOT more than just "Rounded Corners", troll:

        http://money.cnn.com/2015/09/1... [cnn.com]

        • Is this the same money.cnn.com that declared math racist?

          nah, can't be them [cnn.com]

          When are you people going to stop citing CNN as a credible source? What is it going to take?
          • Is this the same money.cnn.com that declared math racist?

            nah, can't be them [cnn.com]

            When are you people going to stop citing CNN as a credible source? What is it going to take?

            There's LOTS more sources. That's just the one that came up first with a good side-by-side picture.

            Why not look at THAT. It tells you ALL you need to know.

            Oh, I know why: Willful Blindness.

    • Apple has ignored patents and plundered tech before (Samsung [cnet.com] comes to mind - 5,579,239, 6,226,449).

      Qualcomm is likely to have sufficient legal standing to prevail where Samsung failed - Qualcomm is a domestic company with stronger patents and a stronger legal department, and not quite so much corporate scandal.

      I also hope that Qualcomm wins. An Apple victory limits the market and drives up costs. While Qualcomm has its problems, it helps the market much more than Apple does. Between them, Apple should suffe

    • I suspect this is just a negotiating chip more than anything else [..] (geddit... chip? I slay me sometimes.)

      I think they just want Apple to chip in- either that or they have a chip on their shoulder and they want to get their own back by chipping away at Apple's success.

  • SSDD (Score:5, Informative)

    by swimboy ( 30943 ) on Friday July 07, 2017 @12:26PM (#54764389)

    This is the same argument that it's always been. Qualcomm has patents that are necessary to use cellular networks, and in return for making them standards, they've agreed to license them (either in their chips or their competitors) for "reasonable" amounts of money. Unfortunately for Apple, Qualcomm is trying to charge a license for a percentage of the final value of the phone, instead of a unit price per radio. They've been in court several times to determine if Qualcomm is being "reasonable" or not.

    It seems a pretty specious argument to me. Just like the article says, you don't charge somebody more for a sofa just because they want to put it in a more expensive house.

    • It's my understanding that the patents that Qualcomm is contesting Apple using IP from are not the ones agreed upon to be placed under the 'common license'. Apple is going beyond that point and using Qualcomm IP that isn't licensed that way to other Qualcomm customers either.

      However, Apple is involved, so people will climb out of Steve Jobs grave (where they live) to raise a hue and cry.

      • It's my understanding that the patents that Qualcomm is contesting Apple using IP from are not the ones agreed upon to be placed under the 'common license'. Apple is going beyond that point and using Qualcomm IP that isn't licensed that way to other Qualcomm customers either.

        However, Apple is involved, so people will climb out of Steve Jobs grave (where they live) to raise a hue and cry.

        ...and you can also be relied-upon to crawl out of whatever hole you inhabit, to put the most negative-spin on any and every Apple-related story posted on Slashdot.

        Citation or it didn't happen.

        So, what was your point, again?

        • Re:SSDD (Score:4, Insightful)

          by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Friday July 07, 2017 @07:32PM (#54767185) Journal

          A citation for you [qualcomm.com].

          The six patents, U.S. Patent No. 8,633,936, U.S. Patent No. 8,698,558, U.S. Patent No. 8,487,658, U.S. Patent No. 8,838,949, U.S. Patent No. 9,535,490, and U.S. Patent No. 9,608,675 enable high performance in a smartphone while extending battery life. Each of the patents does so in a different way for different popular smartphone features; https://www.qualcomm.com/iphon... [qualcomm.com] While the technologies covered by the patents are central to the performance of the iPhone, the six asserted patents are not essential to practice any standards in a mobile device or subject to a commitment to offer to license such patents.

          These are not in the general patent common license pool, are not of any standards required for mobile devices, but Apple wants them anyway and is using them without paying for them.

          • A citation for you [qualcomm.com].

            The six patents, U.S. Patent No. 8,633,936, U.S. Patent No. 8,698,558, U.S. Patent No. 8,487,658, U.S. Patent No. 8,838,949, U.S. Patent No. 9,535,490, and U.S. Patent No. 9,608,675 enable high performance in a smartphone while extending battery life. Each of the patents does so in a different way for different popular smartphone features; https://www.qualcomm.com/iphon... [qualcomm.com] While the technologies covered by the patents are central to the performance of the iPhone, the six asserted patents are not essential to practice any standards in a mobile device or subject to a commitment to offer to license such patents.

            These are not in the general patent common license pool, are not of any standards required for mobile devices, but Apple wants them anyway and is using them without paying for them.

            How is Apple "using them without paying for them" in a device that uses a LICENSED Qualcomm chip?

    • This is the same argument that it's always been. Qualcomm has patents that are necessary to use cellular networks, and in return for making them standards, they've agreed to license them (either in their chips or their competitors) ....

      Here's the part I don't understand.

      If Apple is using competitor chips, that have been licensed by the competitor to Qualcomm....hasn't that competing chip maker already paid the rent/licensing fee to Qualcomm at the chip manufacture level...?

      If so, why does the secondary u

      • Re:SSDD (Score:5, Informative)

        by jonsmirl ( 114798 ) on Friday July 07, 2017 @01:04PM (#54764697) Homepage

        You are confused. Qualcomm is mad that their monopoly at Apple is being broken up by Apple using Intel's cell modems. So to get back at Apple the are accusing Apple patent infringement in another part of the iPhone developed by Apple, not Intel.

        Personally I am very tired of the damage patent monopolies are doing to the US cell phone market. There are 100+ makers of cell phones in China. Only six or seven manufacturers sell in the US. LTE modems for the Chinese LTE bands are $15, same modem of US bands are $60. Average US cellphone pays $35 in patent royalties. Major cell phone companies like Xiaomi won't even enter the US market. in 2012 one sixth of all US patents [techdirt.com] were on cell phones.

        And the future is bleak. All of these patents serve to keep US cell prices very high compared to rest of the world. This is going to end up destroying the developing market for cell connected IOT devices. The patent mess and high prices as so bad that completely independent cell technology (LORA/SIGFOX) is being developed to bypass the existing cell network.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Exactly. The US should have just done what China does: wait for someone else to go to the expense of actually inventing and developing something, then copy it without paying the inventors anything. Then just think of how 'advanced' the US cell phones would be!

          • These inventors have been hugely compensated for their efforts. There is a difference between reasonable or even unreasonable compensation and monopoly rents. We are well into the monopoly rents arena. And that's way Qualcomm is the target of anti-trust actions in China, Korea and the US.

        • Re:SSDD (Score:5, Funny)

          by crtreece ( 59298 ) on Friday July 07, 2017 @01:56PM (#54765157) Homepage

          This is going to end up destroying the developing market for cell connected IOT devices.

          I guess it's not all bad then.

        • All of these patents serve to keep US cell prices very high compared to rest of the world.

          Actually, the same phone is substantially cheaper in the US than in other markets. [phonearena.com]

          Surprise! Lower-quality, shitty phones are being manufactured in China, exclusively for the Chinese market, that likely wouldn't be popular or even pass inspection in first-world countries. The same can be said about lower-quality shitty milk products or lower-quality shitty toys. Even the ones that do come over to the US, Blu or whate

        • Intel is not breaking up Qualcomm's exclusive access to Verizon, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular.

          These are CDMA carriers, and they belong to Qualcomm.

          Apple started out using the Infineon/Intel modems, and was AT&T only. Even then the WCDMA in GSM that was used by the old Infineon modems accessed FRAND IP owned by Qualcomm. GSM was originally TDMA.

      • Re:SSDD (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rsmith-mac ( 639075 ) on Friday July 07, 2017 @01:05PM (#54764707)

        If so, why does the secondary user of the chip (Apple) also have to pay licensing fees?

        Because Qualcomm says so.

        No, seriously. Qualcomm's position is that every step in the production chain that includes their IP/hardware needs to be individually licensed. Because company X makes a board that includes Qualcomm's IP, and then sells that board to company Y who makes a phone from it and sells said phone, then both X and Y need to be licensed.

        It's a scenario that has been called into question many times before over the years. However no case has made it to trial to decide it and set any kind of precedent. In the meantime, because both X and Y technically have products that utilize Qualcomm's IP, both face the risk of an infringement suit if they don't pay royalties.

        Probably the closest we came to that was NVIDIA's suit against Samsung and Qualcomm, which along with establishing IP infringement was attempting to sort out who is responsible for said infringement (is it the company who fabs the chips, or the company who designs the IP?). However since that case imploded spectacularly, the question was never answered.

        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          No, seriously. Qualcomm's position is that every step in the production chain that includes their IP/hardware needs to be individually licensed. Because company X makes a board that includes Qualcomm's IP, and then sells that board to company Y who makes a phone from it and sells said phone, then both X and Y need to be licensed.

          How is this not an open-and-shut case of patent exhaustion?

          • No, seriously. Qualcomm's position is that every step in the production chain that includes their IP/hardware needs to be individually licensed. Because company X makes a board that includes Qualcomm's IP, and then sells that board to company Y who makes a phone from it and sells said phone, then both X and Y need to be licensed.

            How is this not an open-and-shut case of patent exhaustion?

            It is. And the Supreme Court has gotten tired of the Federal Circuit that keeps trying to maintain the fiction that it isn't. So they ruled [supremecourt.gov] in May. Qualcomm apparently didn't get the memo. They don't have a leg to stand on. The brief required to scuttle their entire suit, and dismiss with prejudice, is one page long and cites that link.

        • I thought part of the issue is that the money the manufacturers pay to Qualcomm is subsidized and Apple pays the subsidized rate instead of the proper cut of a premium phone sold in first world countries instead of third world pricing for third world devices. I'm sure there's lots of details unknown.
      • SCO tried pulling the same stunt with Linux a decade or so back...

        • SCO tried pulling the same stunt with Linux a decade or so back...

          SCO was copyright license trolling, not patent trolling. Very different kettle of fish. (The fact that SCO didnt even own the copyrights they where suing over, Novel did and told them to stop, made it even more ludicrous. SCOs entire board should have been thrown in prison for fraud, frankly, it was obviously bullshit to literally everyone, and it was designed to force IBM to buy out SCO. Fortunately IBM had the lawyers to fuck that plan up g

      • This is the same argument that it's always been. Qualcomm has patents that are necessary to use cellular networks, and in return for making them standards, they've agreed to license them (either in their chips or their competitors) ....

        Here's the part I don't understand.

        If Apple is using competitor chips, that have been licensed by the competitor to Qualcomm....hasn't that competing chip maker already paid the rent/licensing fee to Qualcomm at the chip manufacture level...?

        Yes and no. With chips that run embedded firmware, it is quite common to pay a "fee" for the chip as well as a separate license "fee" for the embedded firmware. This is common with MANY chip vendors, not just Qualcomm. You buy the physical IC, but you still may need to license any custom firmware required. For example if you want to use the pre-canned USB/PHY stack on many Cirrus DSPs, you need to pay for that separately. If you want to use AptX encoding on a CSR chip, you need to pay for that separate

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I think it's a pretty reasonable model. Others (Samsung, LG etc) are in the same boat and this works for them.
      Apple is too greedy and wants to charge a undeserved premium for the brand without paying anything extra. I hope Apple suck it up at the end.

    • It seems a pretty specious argument to me. Just like the article says, you don't charge somebody more for a sofa just because they want to put it in a more expensive house.

      Interesting comment given that more and more vendors, shops, ... are introducing variable prices. Go on-line, look for a hotel/flight/... and the price that you will see is often different from what someone else sees. If you are known to be wealthy you are often charged more.

    • you don't charge somebody more for a sofa just because they want to put it in a more expensive house.

      GREAT analogy!!!

  • Correction... (Score:4, Informative)

    by BronsCon ( 927697 ) <social@bronstrup.com> on Friday July 07, 2017 @02:36PM (#54765397) Journal

    Apple continues to use Qualcomm's technology while refusing to pay for it twice

    Someone makes the chips Apple uses in their phones. Those chips implement Qualcomm's patented technologies and whoever makes them, therefore, must be licensing those technologies, which means they're paying for them and passing that cost along to Apple who, by paying for the chips which incorporate Qualcomm's technologies, made by the company who already paid for Qualcomm's technologies, has already paid for the use of Qualcomm's technologies.

    I realize that's hard for some people (namely Qualcomm's leadership and council) to follow, so let's look at a similar situation with a different type of product.

    Coca-Cola uses high fructose corn syrup in their products. They buy this high fructose corn syrup from a supplier. They pay for this high fructose corn syrup when they buy it, then they incorporate it into their products, which they then sell to stores. The stores, then, sell the products to consumers. The stores do not owe the high fructose corn syrup manufacturer anything for the use and sale of their product, because Coca-Cola already paid for that.

    Rephrased to fit the Qualcomm situation, with edits bolded to make them clear:

    Chip manufacturers use Qualcomm technologies in their products. They license these Qualcomm technologies from a Qualcomm. They pay for these Qualcomm technologies when they license them, then they incorporate them into their products, which they then sell to Apple. Apple, then, sells the products to consumers. Apple does not owe Qualcomm anything for the use and sale of their technologies, because the chip manufacturers already paid for that.

    • Apple has asked their suppliers to not pay the Qualcomm royalties any longer.

      • Well, if Apple is being expected to pay, that's only fair. In fact, Qualcomm should welcome that, as their licensing is based on the final sale price of the finished product; it would be in Qualcomm's best interest to charge their licensing fee as late in the chain as possible.
    • Let's say the bottling plant pays for the syrup and Coke pays the bottling plant. The syrup company says I'll sell you sugar at X price for no-name/RC cola, but I will sell you it for X+Y. Or, Apple starts paying X fee. The lower margin phones can't afford it. Qualcomm decides they'll make more money lowering the fee and getting more than nothing. My understanding is the payment is tied to the sale price of the phone and Apple is trying to pay the same as the lower priced phones.
      • So, then, let me ask you this:

        If you designed a product and one of the components of that product was an iPhone, literally integrated into the product itself as part of a larger whole, would you pay licensing fees to Qualcomm?

        I ask this because that's what Qualcomm would expect you to do, although the manufacturers of the chips in that iPhone have already paid licensing fees and, if Qualcomm gets their way, so will Apple. So they'll have collected licensing fees on, say, a $10 chip and an $800 phone, an

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