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Businesses The Courts Apple

US To Review Qualcomm's Complaints About Apple iPhone Patents (reuters.com) 35

U.S. trade officials have agreed to investigate Qualcomm's allegations that Apple Inc infringed on patents with its iPhone7 and other devices, the U.S. International Trade Commission said on Tuesday. From a report: The ITC will make its decision "at the earliest practicable time" and will set a target date for completing its investigation within the next 45 days, the commission said in a statement. Qualcomm filed the complaint in early July, asking U.S. trade regulators to ban certain models of the iPhone that contain so-called broadband modem chips, which help phones connect to wireless data networks, that were not made by Qualcomm. Apple began using broadband modem chips made by Intel Corp in the iPhone 7. Qualcomm has not alleged that Intel chips violate its patents but says the way Apple uses them in the iPhone does.
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US To Review Qualcomm's Complaints About Apple iPhone Patents

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Qualcomm has not alleged that Intel chips violate its patents but says the way Apple uses them in the iPhone does"

    Do we need any more proof patent law is a joke?

    • My fork does not violate your patent but when I eat food with it it does... ?

    • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

      Exactly how does it prove that? Do you think that anyone who buys any component from anyone who was licensed to make that component automatically has a license to make everything that could be made with that component?

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        Exactly how does it prove that? Do you think that anyone who buys any component from anyone who was licensed to make that component automatically has a license to make everything that could be made with that component?

        Well, presumably Intel paid all the patent license fees to make the product so customers could build stuff with it. It's called exhaustion - once you collect your fees for an item, you can't double dip and collect them again (something Apple accuses Qualcomm of doing).

        Otherwise, where does it

        • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

          Nope. Exhaustion applies to A patent, not ALL patents.

          You could patent a new and useful gear. You could also patent a machine that uses that gear. Just because you license someone to manufacture your gear does not mean you lose your patent rights on the machine. It also does not mean that someone who buys your gear from that manufacturer has rights to build your machine. It only means you can not sue someone simply for using your gear.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Glad you feel such passion against Qualcomm. The reality is that these are all billion dollar companies with in house legal teams that can fight endless battles. I read recently that building a smartphone involves over 100 thousand patents. There is no way for a small company to enter the business and change everything. If the environment that exists today existed in the 60's and 70's, there would have been no PC revolution. IBM would have patented connecting a video display to a computer.
          The patent system

        • Using a product to lower parameters than what the spec says is not crippling a chip. If I have a DRAM that can read or write in 10 ns, and my circuit is designed to clock it every 20 ns - due to other parts of the system - I'm using the DRAM as specified. While some chipmakers may have different bins when spec'ing to handle fallout, those w/ 100% yields are better off w/ 1 bin for inventory control purposes.

          Similarly, Apple, from a supply-chain POV, sources from both Intel & Qualcomm. The Qualc

    • You can buy a CSR 8670 and use it without issue; the second you start to use the AptX firmware inside, though, you need a separate license. Chips that run embedded firmware can very easily require two sets of licensing, because not all users of the chip will need all the firmware the chip designer offers.
  • Try being relevant instead of litigious.
    • Re:Hey Qualcomm... (Score:5, Informative)

      by amjohns ( 29330 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @04:54PM (#54968719)

      That's one of the most cluelessly ignorant things I've heard in a while...

      Like them or not, Qualcomm has been the driver behind much modern wireless tech, and their chips are in pretty much every high-end phone. Only recently have any competitors been remotely close to matching their performance and battery efficiency - something Intel still failed at by the evidence Apple had to downgrade the iPhone 7S to be as slow as the 7S+. Samsung has finally gotten close, and for application processors Apple does beat them, but Qualcomm is the undisputed king of the wireless modem.

      They also invented CDMA, which is the entire underlying tech of 3G networks and indisputably deserve those royalties. And invented good portions of the LTE spec too.

      Now, are they charging unfair royalties for patent-essential things? Maybe so. But Apple sued first, and said effectively "we're gong to keep selling iphones with both your actual chips, and your IP, and we're not going to pay anything anymore, even thoug you're charging what we contractually agreed to.". So heck yeah Qualcomm is right to sue back in that case and ask for an injunction.

      This is the sort of dispute the ITC should definitely examine, from all sides.

      • by zieroh ( 307208 )

        They also invented CDMA, which is the entire underlying tech of 3G networks

        Wasn't that Hedy Lamarr?

        • Hedley! sigh...
        • Re:Hey Qualcomm... (Score:4, Informative)

          by amjohns ( 29330 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @05:30PM (#54969055)

          Nope, she invented frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS), not direct-sequence (DSSS) as used in CDMA. Totally different technologies.

          FHSS as invented by her was better for anti-jam and anti-detection than single-carrier systems, and for RF (which she wasn't proposing) it has good multi-path performance. But it doesn't actually improve frequency reuse at all, it actually can be worse because in high-density you will have collisions.

          DSSS by comparison has great reuse, as evidenced by CDMA and GPS stacking multiple users on the same frequency with only spreading-code separation. It has poor multi-path performance though, since you need to coherently de-spread the signal, so phase variance requires complex equalizers for wide-ish bandwidth, including the >1MHz chunks UMTS uses. Potentially better anti-detection, if high spreading ratios are used, and roughly equivalent anti-jam to FHSS overall.

      • Now, are they charging unfair royalties for patent-essential things? Maybe so. But Apple sued first, and said effectively "we're gong to keep selling iphones with both your actual chips, and your IP, and we're not going to pay anything anymore, even thoug you're charging what we contractually agreed to.".

        Except that's not anything close to what happened. Qualcomm licenses its technologies directly to people making chips. They themselves design and sell chips. However, Qualcomm wanted Apple to pay royalties directly to them AND also pay other companies (not Qualcomm) for chips made by companies that licensed the same technology from Qualcomm. That's double dipping.

        As direct comparison, that would be like ARM demanding royalties from anyone using a Samsung ARM processor after ARM licensed their cores to Samsu

        • by amjohns ( 29330 )

          Since none of us have seen the private docs and license agreements, all we really know about the above is that's how Apple has spun the PR on it. Qualcomm says that's not the case and spins it differently, to make themselves look like the aggrieved ones. Which specific patents are the each accusing, etc.

          Who's telling the truth?? That's probably why the ITC actually agreed to dive in and try to figure it out. Potential merit according to both stated positions, need a neutral party to look and decide.

          • Since none of us have seen the private docs and license agreements, all we really know about the above is that's how Apple has spun the PR on it. Qualcomm says that's not the case and spins it differently, to make themselves look like the aggrieved ones. Which specific patents are the each accusing, etc.

            First of all, Qualcomm is being investigated by both the US (FTC) [fortune.com] and European agencies [seekingalpha.com] for anti-trust. This follows South Korea [reuters.com] fining the company $854M for unfair business practices.

            Second, you can't claim ignorance after an assertion. In essence you're saying "We don't know what was in the agreements" right after you positively alleged the Apple wrongs did with the agreements. Either you don't know or you do know. So how do you know what Apple did?

            Who's telling the truth?? That's probably why the ITC actually agreed to dive in and try to figure it out. Potential merit according to both stated positions, need a neutral party to look and decide.

            Well I don't believe either party but it's not the first

      • Apple had to downgrade the iPhone 7S to be as slow as the 7S+.

        That's almost correct, except that neither of those models actually exist (yet?), and the modems in the 7 and 7 Plus models differed by carrier, not by the size of the phone. But I do agree that Intel's modem is inferior.

        They also invented CDMA, which is the entire underlying tech of 3G networks

        If you were to slap about a dozen asterisks on that statement to spell out all of the caveats, you might be able to get away with saying things that way, but if that's all you're going to say, then no, they didn't, and no, it isn't.

        Assuming you're talking about CDMA2000, it was, at best, th

      • I don't think anyone denies that Qualcomm is a true innovator and contributor to technological progress. The dispute here is isn't really a patent dispute, it's an accounting dispute. Qualcomm is arguing that they should be paid twice for the use of their patents - once by the company making the chips incorporating Qualcomm technology, once by the company which buys those chips to install in their product. In essence, the question is does the first sale doctrine [wikipedia.org] (which covers copyrighted and trademarked
      • ...by Dmitry Ageev [wikipedia.org]:

        The technology of code-division multiple access channels has long been known. In the Soviet Union (USSR), the first work devoted to this subject was published in 1935 by Dmitry Ageev. It was shown that through the use of linear methods, there are three types of signal separation: frequency, time and compensatory. The technology of CDMA was used in 1957, when the young military radio engineer Leonid Kupriyanovich in Moscow made an experimental model of a wearable automatic mobile phone, ca

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