Non-Binding Recommendations from Third-Party ITC Lawyers have Found Apple to have Infringed one Qualcomm Patent
On June 11th Patently Apple posted a report titled "The Apple-Qualcomm Legal Battle will be Ratcheted Up in H2 as Qualcomm Prays for an Injunction on the iPhone." The report noted that "Next week the International Trade Commission in Washington will begin a hearing on Qualcomm's argument that Apple is infringing three patents. Qualcomm is asking the agency to ban imports of all iPhone 7 models that don't have Qualcomm's chips. The iPhone, which provides Apple with more than 60 percent of its sales, is manufactured in Asia."
Reuters is now reporting that "The staff of the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on Friday recommended that a trade judge find that Apple infringed at least one of Qualcomm's patents, a move that could lead to blocking the import of some iPhones.
The San Diego chipmaker filed a complaint against Apple nearly a year ago, asking the commission to ban the import of iPhones containing rival chipmaker Intel's modem chips.
The ITC staff acts as a third party in such trade cases. The staff lawyers' opinions are not binding, but judges often follow them.
In previous filings in the ITC case, Apple has argued that Qualcomm's patents are invalid and that, regardless, the judge should not ban Intel-based iPhones because it would give Qualcomm a monopoly on modems in the United States and drive Intel out of the modem business.
"Qualcomm is selectively asserting its patents to target only Apple products containing Intel chipsets — even though its patent infringement allegations would apply equally to Apple products containing Qualcomm chipsets — in an attempt to use the ITC as another mechanism for perpetuating its ill-gotten monopoly position," Apple wrote.
Qualcomm is praying that the Judge will follow the staff lawyers recommendation. "If the ITC judge decides to ban some iPhone imports, Qualcomm could use that to try to persuade Apple to settle or drop several of the other patent and contract cases, legal experts have said.
Apple has argued that some of Qualcomm's practices are illegal, and the chipmaker has paid billions of dollars in fines from antitrust regulators in several countries, though it is still appealing some of those rulings. Qualcomm says its practices are legal."
However, it's on record that the EU fined Qualcomm US$1.2 Billion for abusing it's market dominance. Of course Qualcomm refuses to accept the EU's findings and has recently asked the EU's General Court to strike down the fine.
As long as the EU fine stays on record, it hurts Qualcomm's case and contradicts their position that their practices are legal.
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