Judge Recommends Import Ban On Some iPhones After Qualcomm Patent Infringement Verdict

Ban could block iPhones shipping from Chinese manufacturing plants to United States

iPhones on display at an Apple store in Beijing.
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

Ban could block iPhones shipping from Chinese manufacturing plants to United States

After finding Apple guilty of patent infringement on two patents from San Diego-based chipmaker Qualcomm, a judge with the United States International Trade Commission has recommended a ban on imports of certain iPhone models, per reporting from The Verge.

The verdict is just the latest development in the long legal battle between Apple and Qualcomm, a chipmaker and manufacturer based out of San Diego. Apple began the battle by filing a $1 billion lawsuit against Qualcomm for withheld funds in January 2017. Qualcomm retaliated by filing a separate lawsuit for patent infringement against Apple in July 2017, and received a favorable $31 million verdict in that case from a California jury last month, according to CNET.

The suit alleged that Apple had copied different Qualcomm technologies without permission in the newest iPhone. The software in question involves a Qualcomm innovation that helped devices connect to the internet more quickly after being powered on, and other technologies to maximize battery life and graphics processing, among others.

However, the verdict represented one of the first steps in the larger legal battle. Qualcomm is preparing for a much bigger trial with Apple next month. That lawsuit, which began in September 2018, accuses Apple of stealing Qualcomm’s proprietary technology and giving it to rival chipmaker Intel — a verdict which, if favorable to Qualcomm, could hold massive consequences for Apple’s business in the United States and abroad, once again per The Verge.

Loading...

Qualcomm has already secured bans on certain older iPhone models in countries like Germany and China, but this would represent a much larger problem for the Silicon Valley titan. Newer iPhone models using Intel mobile modems could be blocked from entering the United States if the judgement stands after review from the International Trade Commission.

It’s also possible that Qualcomm may not secure the import ban in the end. The chipmaker lost a separate ruling on patent infringement from the ITC which would have also granted the company an import ban, which could provide ample reasoning to overturn this ban after the review process.

The legal troubles between Apple and Qualcomm have already shattered the business relationship between the two companies. While once the exclusive supplier of mobile modems for Apple phones, Apple has recently turned to Intel to supply some of its stock — including all of the mobile modems for the new iPhone XS and XR models. Regardless of the eventual ruling on the ban, that relationship isn’t likely to recover anytime soon.