Qualcomm Fools Chinese Court with Invalided Patent to gain Injunction to ban iPhones in China
Apple's CEO got an instant headache this morning as a Chinese court ordered a ban on most iPhone sales in the country as part of two preliminary injunctions. Apple was quick to respond in a statement stating that "Qualcomm's effort to ban our products is another desperate move by a company whose illegal practices are under investigation by regulators around the world. All iPhone models remain available for our customers in China."
CNBC reported that Apple added that "Qualcomm is asserting three patents they had never raised before, including one which has already been invalidated. We will pursue all our legal options through the courts."
Apple says the injunction only concerns patents that apply to iOS 11, the operating system for iPhone and iPad Apple launched in 2017. This predates the system that runs on the newest iPhones, iOS 12. Apple said it is still selling iPhones in China, one of its largest and most important markets for the iPhone.
In the end Apple stated that they did not violate these patents and that the ban goes beyond the scope of the injunction itself.
In late November Qualcomm's CEO went on a PR run stating that they and Apple were close to a deal, which was a complete fabrication. Days later in court Apple's legal team made it crystal clear to the court that making a deal with Qualcomm wasn't even in the cards and looked forward to fighting this out in court.
Qualcomm is attempting to change the subject and put Apple in a bad light prior to their battle with Apple in U.S. courts starting in April 2019.
Over the weekend Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents posted an interesting report titled "Qualcomm fears being required to renegotiate patent license agreements with Samsung, many others."
This is what Apple's challenge could ultimately mean to Qualcomm which would be a nightmare for their future profitability.
In one of the PDF's that Mueller provides from the court points to a Joint Pretrial Statement that in-part reads: But the FTC’s requirement that Qualcomm renegotiate all contracts and licenses “free from the threat of lack of access to modem chip supply or associated technical, software, or other support,” begs the questions of what is prohibited, how this will be determined, how parties will determine if such amorphous conditions are present, and others."
Mueller writes: "It's obvious why Qualcomm doesn't like this, but it's inevitable: if someone violates antitrust law and as a result of such behavior (including, but not limited to, the "no license-no chips" policy) imposes supra-FRAND royalties on others, renegotiation is the only way to redress the balance and fix the problem."
Will Qualcomm's cheap win in a Chinese court (where they lied to the judge with an invalidated patent) backfire against them?
While only time will tell, Apple knows this is a desperate move on Qualcomm's part and Mueller's assessment over the weekend that the FTC is likely to force Qualcomm to renegotiate all of their contracts because of their mafia style tactics, it's clearer now that time if running out for Qualcomm and they're trying to lash out at Apple in any way that they can.