Qualcomm asks US to ban iPhone imports

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Chipmaker Qualcomm is asking U.S. trade authorities to ban imports of Apple products, including iPhones, that don’t use its processors.

Qualcomm said Thursday it will formally request that the U.S. International Trade Commission temporarily ban the imports to “stop Apple’s unlawful and unfair use of Qualcomm’s technology.”

The company is accusing Apple of infringing on its patents.

“Qualcomm’s inventions are at the heart of every iPhone and extend well beyond modem technologies or cellular standards,” Qualcomm general counsel Don Rosenberg said in a statement.

{mosads}“The patents we are asserting represent six important technologies, out of a portfolio of thousands, and each is vital to iPhone functions. Apple continues to use Qualcomm’s technology while refusing to pay for it.”

The chipmaker is also suing Apple to prevent it from selling any products already imported that may infringe on their patents.

The move escalates a contentious and complicated legal battle between the two technology giants.

Qualcomm holds patents that allow it to charge royalties on many smartphones, even if they don’t use their products. Qualcomm says many of its inventions and research made smartphones like the iPhone possible.

Apple, though, hit back, suing Qualcomm for what it sees as anticompetitive practices, alleging in a January lawsuit that the chipmaker has been charging exorbitant prices for the use of its technology.

“For many years Qualcomm has unfairly insisted on charging royalties for technologies they have nothing to do with,” the company said in a statement at the time.

Qualcomm, one of Apple’s main supplier of phone parts, is alleging that the iPhone maker is infringing on six patents it owns that “enable high performance in a smartphone while extending battery life.”

Asked for comment by The Hill on Qualcomm’s latest move, an Apple spokesman pointed to remarks that CEO Tim Cook made in an earnings call earlier this year.

“The reason that we’re pursuing this is that Qualcomm’s trying to charge Apple a percentage of the total iPhone value,” Cook said about the legal fight. “And they do some really great work around standards-essential patents, but it’s one small part of what an iPhone is. It’s not – it has nothing do with the display or the Touch ID or a gazillion other innovations that Apple has done. And so we don’t think that’s right, and so we’re taking a principled stand on it.”

The ITC is likely to take months to act on Qualcomm’s trade complaint.

The move also comes as Qualcomm is facing an antitrust probe from the Federal Trade Commission.

This story was updated at 5:48 p.m.


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