Qualcomm files patent infringement complaints against Apple, aims to ban U.S. iPhone imports

Qualcomm owns a lot of IP (intellectual property). Much of it is for things we don't think about when we are using a phone powered by one of its processors, like network data transfer and battery management. Today, it has filed a complaint with the ITC (international trade commission) against Apple, which it says uses six patented technologies without offering the correct compensation to Qualcomm.

It makes it clear that these are not industry standard patents (which have different rules about how they are used and paid for) but still "play integral roles enabling both high-speed performance and extended battery life." The patents in question are:

  • US Patent 8698558 (issued 2014) which extends battery life by offering intelligent antenna power management
  • US Patent 8838949 (issued 2014) which helps a phone connect to the network at first boot
  • US Patent 8633936 (issued 2014) which allows for graphic intensive applications to use less battery power
  • US Patent 9535490 (issued 2017) which monitors and manages network traffic to and from applications
  • US Patent 9608675 (issued 2017) which aggregates multiple streams into a single "data super-highway"
  • US Patent 8487658 (issued 2013) which uses more efficient power interfacing for both high and low voltage circuits

Using a move from Apple's own playbook, Qualcomm is petitioning the ITC to stop imports and sales of Apple products that use these patents.

"Qualcomm's inventions are at the heart of every iPhone and extend well beyond modem technologies or cellular standards," said Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm. "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. These lawsuits seek to stop Apple's infringement of six of our patented technologies."

Apple and Qualcomm are already embroiled in a legal battle over standard-essential patents, and this just adds fuel to the existing fire. All we can say is that if the patents were fairly granted and any company is using them, it should pay for them. We're not about to guess how the ITC will rule when it comes to banning iPhone sales, but we know it has not been afraid to do the same to other companies. We also know it's simply a great bargaining chip to try and receive those backed royalties from Apple, which would naturally go to considerable lengths to keep an import ban from being imposed.

While not directly Android related, this news is important to follow as both companies involved have enough influence to shape the mobile landscape for us all.

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Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

128 Comments
  • I wonder if Trump would overrule a ban like Obama did?
  • Only if him or his friends and family would make money by doing so.
  • I suggest that you go look for your pacifier and crawl back to your safe space, typical liberal leftist nonsensical comment, LMAO. At least our current president is a CAPITALIST, not a SOCIALIST.
  • He's a moron first and foremost.
  • That's Mr. MORON to you peasant!
  • So a billionaire developer is a moron, who also became President of the United States, and that makes you what exactly, another typical liberal leftist snowflake nonsensical comment.
  • No, Trump is incompetent, foolish and completely unfit for office. He's in office because many other morons like him voted him in. Enjoy your civics lesson. So... What the hell does this have to do with Apple and Qualcomm?
  • Correct
  • Hey we can always put Hillary in the office oh wait she lost. Also they did switch the topic to Trump because the very first comment was about overruling a ban
  • Actually she won the popular vote, but because of Americas Corrupt voting system, is what caused her to lose. She had almost 3 million more votes.
  • How so, please enlighten us with your profound wisdom and unbound knowledge.
  • No, the people that voted for Trump weren't morons, they were scared to death of Clinton who was the most incompetent, corrupt candidate in the history of the US.
  • He is demonstrably a horrible business person, this is very easy information to verify but I doubt you will. Can't have any factual information shattering the reality his cult has created.
  • Codious prime..... LoL, Trump has turned a few million into billions all while building a large empire! What have you done? Not a phuckin thing. How's your mom basement? Does she still wash your $hit stained tighty whities ?
  • 45 inherited $200 million dollars. Had he invested in an index fund he'd have MORE than $12 billion dollars so, he's not the smart businessman he claims to be LMAO
  • You are VASTLY misinformed. He's lost more than most people will earn in 10 lifetimes. He's a terrible businessman. He was born rich. Any wise investments were made by smarter advisers.
  • Another typical liberal leftist nonsensical comment, 4 out of 500 plus business ventures went bad, I would say that is a great success rate, so what exactly have you done with yourself, just another typical envious comment. So let me ask you, you where happy with the direction the country was heading, 10 trillion dollars added to the national debt in 8 years "a record", the Marxist Barack Obama added more dept than ALL the previous presidents combined, that has to be paid back by future generations, and added another 20 million to the government dole, that's what socialists do, they spend until they run out of other people's money "tax payers" , ask the politicians in Illinois, where people have been leaving that socialist run state for years"Barack Obama's old stomping grounds" how it's working out for them, or Detroit, or Milwaukee, or California "another state where middle class working people have been leaving in droves, all liberal states being run to the ground. So you are telling us that a career crooked politician named Hillary Clinton" pay for play politics to pad her bank account "that amassed a 300 plus million dollar fortune on a government salary was better for this country than a private business man, you libtards seriously have not done your homework. Looks like the FAKE liberal MSM like the FNN has done a fantastic job of brainwashing you. https://youtu.be/FW0sy8w23rU https://youtu.be/VsWzfhvvOgg https://youtu.be/A7R-xzs7F7Y https://youtu.be/81bphigZOpg https://youtu.be/sJf3uP4HDi0 https://youtu.be/rmMe-2qaSss https://youtu.be/ZFcEnRu-hY8 https://youtu.be/JEhzdZvQ1WM https://youtu.be/9_I3IHgJT-M
  • Actually, he's not a billionaire
  • Typical moron. Someone says something you don't like so you make assumptions that they're a liberal who needs a safe space. Does it hurt to be so wrong and such a fool? Trust me, I don't need a safe space, especially when dealing with someone of your severely limited mental capabilities.
  • Sorry to inform you but Socialism is DEAD, I suggest you go look for your pacifier and crawl back to your safe space.
    The Marxist community organizer from the crooked and now broke liberal state of Illinois Barack Obama did enough damage to this country to last for decades.
  • Wtf did you just type? Lmao I didn't know one person could put so many cliches in one post.
  • You're probably some redneck from the Midwest or South that has a Confederate flag in his room, thinks Barack Obama is a Muslim, is against Black Lives Matter movement, thinks global warming is a joke, think all news is "fake news", is following white nationalists on Twitter. Obama bailed out the auto industry, brought down gas prices way down, and was an excellent role model of America. Trump is an embarrassment and is a symbol of mockery, turn on TV or read the news and you see him screwing up everyday (not all news is fake news). He's NOT a good businessman and has terrible ethics, he used his fake charity fund to pay for a life size portrait of him, created Trumpcare which will cut medical care for millions even for those who voted for him, invited Russians to the Oval office in March, and right now is being under investigation for being involved with the Russians. But philosophers been saying for years, "You'll never win an argument with an idiot". Don't even try it with a trump supporter. Now back to talking about tech and being nerds...
  • I actually live in the libtard infested **** hole called NYC.
  • Your knowledge of political theory is severely limited if you think that the millionaire capitalist Obama is a socialist.
  • Obama and the DemocRAT party are socialists.
    They used to be a party. Now they are just mental patients. Liberalism is a mental health disorder.
  • Androidistopdawg, you are a mental case and a very stupid person. Colleges and Universities have degrees in Liberal Arts. There is no degree in conservative arts because there is nothing to learn about conservative. You just parrot Rush Limbo and the idiots on Faux news and you can be a conservative.
  • Returnmyjedi. Obama is not a capitalist at all. DemocRATS are like socialists. They want to spread the wealth. They create a falsehood that black people and Hispanics are a victim and that they deserve the fruit of someone else's labor. This behavior is much like that behavior that is associated with Communism. I'm half Cuban, I know all about the evil that communism represents.
  • You are half Trumptard and half dumb Faux news watcher. Repuglicans want to spread the wealth among the wealthy and corporations. They think that the rich and the corporations are victims and they deserve the fruit of the middle class's and poor's labor. I know all about the evil that capitalism is.
  • You are spot on, this brainwashed generation in the US, that has been fed nothing but BS in the liberal run universities have no clue what socialism is and how these crooks operate. They all want to virtue signal until it's their wallet they come to drain,even they vanish into thin air, all they do is just talk out of their ass, without any study in history, they are too busy snap chatting.
  • He is actually a Marxist, go do your homework.
  • You must be Russian. Socialism is dead? How many socialist programs do you encounter on a daily basis? Police department. Fire department. Schools... Comrade Trump is a fool. He can't help it. That doesn't make him a bad person. Also, you should be kissing President Obama's feet for the job he did in keeping the country afloat after 8 years of republican rule.
  • Deke218,. Socialism is great until you run out of other people's money. Those programs you listed are just liberal talking points. I encourage you to further research what a socialist is. There is a socialist that was running for president, but he lost. Bernie Sanders is the guy.
  • Hey idiots.... This is an android site and an article about technology and you fn morons can't stop talking politics? How about go to another site and pull your panties back up in those bunches and Duke it out there so the rest of us don't have to listen to your political nonsense (especially considering it's clear some of you have zero clue what the F ur talking about) . Thanks.
  • Capitalism is great too, until you run out of other people's money or lose it at the casino.
  • You have no idea what you are talking about, you must be 10 years old, let me guess is that what FNN told you. Today's generation is just too lazy to go do some real research and get their facts straight, it's just easier to spew some nonsense they heard from someone else.
  • Boom^^^^^^
  • Socialism is not dead. Where have you been? Watching Faux news your whole life? You better come back to the real world and leave the Faux news holodeck behind.
  • Obamacare is a SOCIALIST DISTRIBUTION PROGRAM.
  • Why the **** are you even here talking about this? The election has nothing to do with the article.. please get a life!
  • You need to ask this question to tdizzel.
  • cybertec69, you poor dumb *******.
  • 45 is all for SOCIALISM, for himself and his family
  • And what is wrong with Socialists? Isn't your capitalism that is ruinning people's lives world wide by nourishing this modern form of slavery by getting corporate giants running factories in Asia, paying their workers peanuts and selling their hugely overpriced products back to capitalists supporters like yourself?
  • Another idiot on the www. Android Central is a capitalist company.
  • And how do you come to that conclusion you smart arse?
  • I say this in the style of George HW Bush so that even and idiot Faux news watcher can understand. Capitalism --Bad, Socialism-- Good
  • No chance in hell this comes to anything. Android isn't exactly known when it comes to stability or smooth operating when it comes to their software. Or security. Ease of use, security, speed, reliability. Those are what you get with Apple. Oh and class. You walk in public and everyone is on their phones, you wouldn't give two craps what android they're using. Lastly, in general android has a long way to go when it comes to speed and accuracy of it's on screen keyboard.
  • All the talking points you mentioned are areas where the Pixel is demonstrably better than the iPhone 7. Except for the class part, because it's obvious you aren't in possession of any. Please troll on another website, thanks.
  • Good one Jerry.
  • Lol id love to see apple lose millions because someone else started playing their game
  • Me too!
  • Don't hold your breath
  • What's good for the goose.... I hate all this crap but honestly couldn't happen to a more deserving company. Hope they get what they deserve
  • I hope you meant billions! ;-)
  • Lol good luck Qualcomm you will never succeed.
  • I most definitely hope Qualcomm beats Apple at their own game. It would be hilarious if the next iPhone was banned or cost be $2k+.
  • That would effect Android oem too sooner or later and Qualcomm has a monopoly. So I don't know why your wanting Qualcomm to win this.
  • I don't think so.Simply because Android OEMs probably get a full package from Qualcomm - Snapdragon processors w radios they install-buy come with the licensing. On the other hand, Apple has it's own chip and obviously doesn't care to pay anything for using the Qualcomm developed technology.
  • Almost every phone sold on this planet pays Qualcomm tax, including all the current iPhones. What Apple wants to do is stop paying that tax to lower its cost.
  • This is wrong. Qualcomm charges a certain amount for standards-essential technology if you buy components from them. If you don't buy their components but want to use their IP, you instead are forced to pay a percentage (5) of the total price for each model sold. For standard-essential patents. This is basically robbery and abuse of FRAND patents. Other companies who were in the same situation have stopped selling phones and tablets (at least in the US and Canada) because they can't afford to give Qualcomm 7% of the retail total for every unit. They're lucky to make 7% profit on a single sale. Ask yourself what happened to NVIDIA and their Icera modem that they spent billions developing? Qualcomm. That's what happened. Let's hope Icera wouldn't have been a better product than Qualcomm's when it comes to baseband tech. We'll never know. I also can't help but notice that Samsung caved to their demands rather than join Apple and Intel and the FTC and investigate Qualcomm's FRAND patent pricing.
  • Maybe , but all of this s h i t has to stop. I am also including EU for all their efforts against Google. I am a big proponent for pantents in a capitalist society. I don't know, someone enlighten me.
  • I agree that something badly needs to change about the patent system, but this doesn't seem like a good example of what needs to change. I'm no engineer, but these seem to be very specific technical patents, and if Apple is using Qualcomm's tech, they need to pay up. It's litigation based on extremely broad, obvious, and often design-based patents that stifles innovation and competition.
  • Fair enough, I concur, just frustrating.
  • They don't sound all that specific to me, just based on the titles. For example, 'extends battery life by offering intelligent antenna power management', would have to define the methodology by which this is achieved. There isn't just one way to do this. If Apple were using QUALCOMM's specific method then yea, but if they have their own method of achieving the result indicated in the title, no infringement. The titles seem to just expose the result/goal, not the method.
  • What has to stop is some Corporations thinking they can do whatever the f*ck they want and that laws aren't to be respected. That's the problem.
    The EU goes after Google rightfully so. Because Google has been abusing their monopoly in search and mobile for years. Just like they went after Microsoft, Apple and any other company that does the same. And the law will side with Qualcomm if Apple has indeed been infringing on Qualcomm patents. Specially if Qualcomm licenses them.
    There's a difference between a company having so called "essential patents" and trying to sue companies for using them. Another thing is for a company having specific patents and another company trying to steal the technology for their own benefit. Patents cost money to the companies that create them. For example, imagine you're Qualcomm and you invest millions of euros in developing a new technology for your processors that allows for massive power saving. You patent it. All well. That technology you then created, you license it to other companies for them to use. They will pay you royalties for that. That is how you make back the millions you invested in developing it. That's how capitalism works. Now imagine Apple comes along, sees your technology and starts using it without paying you a single dime, and then goes to make billions of dollars on devices that take advantage of YOUR technology and YOUR efforts and you don't get paid at all. Would you think that's fair? No, of course not. Same can be applied to Google. You have a search engine and you want consumers to try out. You go to the market and approach OEMs to install your search engine in their devices. And the answer they give you is that they can't because the gigantic corporation that monopolises the search engine market doesn't allow you to replace their search engine on the devices under penalty of not "certifying" your device and granting access to a store from where they will take another cut of the profits.
    How are you suppose to COMPETE in a FREE market, when the competition is crushed by a company that has the dominant position and uses it to not allow the market to be free? I think you can understand that this goes beyond the "I'm a Google/Microsoft/Apple fanboy so they can do no wrong" thing. These corporations aren't your friends and they don't care about you. They're in it to make money and you're their tool for that. If you allow them to do as they please, in the end, it's YOU who are left without a choice. If that company starts offering sh*tty services, you no longer have an alternative to them because, when they didn't and you kept defending their practices, they crushed the alternatives.
  • When it's all said and done, nobody wins but the lawyers.
  • This should be a wild one to watch. No doubt there will eventually be a court ruling followed by a settlement of some kind that BOTH sides will be unhappy with. What makes it all the more interesting is that they are battling in 3 countries -- UK, China, and the U.S. that have different laws, legal systems, and political interests.
  • True
  • I had five guys for dinner and it was good!!!
  • I like Five Guys.
  • It's so good
  • Never had em, not very common over here... I had a rib-eye with some scampi... Was also pretty damn good.
  • In the UK? Thought it was all fish n chips and blood sausage. Jk Five Guys rules.
  • Actually, now you mention it I haven't had fish and chips in ages... Have to remedy that soon lol. So I hear, I'll have to get to the Birmingham one at some point... Didn't spot any when I was in the US, but you can keep Wendy's!
  • I think five guys is an east coast thing? Could be wrong
  • Nope, got em' in Colorado and there's even one (at least) in Hawaii.
  • Yum
  • We even have them in Calgary Alberta! Love them!!!!!
  • Over rated and over priced......talking about both.....
  • No no and no
  • Agree, not all that impressed with five guys. Not bad, just not good enough to justify the price. Maybe I'm spoiled by an abundance of great local burger joints...
  • They have good fries, I'll give them that. Oh and free peanuts
  • True, they do have good fries.
  • I'm assuming that this is a restaurant and you're not all a bunch of cannibals
  • I wish Qualcomm would use their own technology so my phone wouldn't die so fast
  • Lol. One of my phones has the SD615. Qualcomm obviously didn't use their patents to prevent battery drain on this chip; you can see the battery drain in front of your eyes. The only phone I have had with possibly worse battery life is my Nexus 5.
  • Put Nexus 5X there too.
  • I was about to call "That looks really generic" I looked up the first one. This is some real technical description of Qualcomm's PAE that gets used in low power GPS. Sounds legit to me, but I'm no scientist.
  • Apple stop being cheap. Pay the money. You make the most profits of all OEM's You can dish a little
  • Wild guess here. I think Apple already has the money earmarked to go to Qualcomm for the things they feel are using their patents. They are holding it back to draw more attention to the other legal mess — where Qualcomm is charging exorbitant fees for companies to use their standard-essential patents if they want to use components not made by Qualcomm. That's a situation that has been going on for almost 5 years, and it needs to change. Like the poster below says, it keeps Samsung from using their chips in NA and makes sure every other company also buys Qualcomm chips, because there is zero profit once the Qualcomm "tax" is paid for phones not using a snapdragon. Fines and/or interest on the patent fees, in this case, are probably worth it. They make Qualcomm look extra greedy and that might influence the important lawsuit.
  • interesting. thx for your [always] educating input , Jerry !
  • Funny thing is that Apple does the same thing with their iPhone tax, Intel with theirs, Microsoft, etc. It's like a comment above said, it would be fun to see Apple beat by their own game. Strangely, Apple is acting like a sinking ship looking to bring down as many others with them as they can. Quite odd to me, but perhaps they figure that they can only sink so far if no one is on top?
  • Hopefully Qualcomm goes burning down , so other oem like Samsung don't need to bow down when it comes to bringing exynos chips to North America. Never would I side with apple but this time ,go Apple kick some ass
  • Lol.....ur funny to me
  • It's like your watching your favorite cartoon and you want the enemy of your favorite character to beat up the enemy that controls the life of said favorite character lol
  • This is tiresome.
  • Oh no. I don't like iPhone but I dont want the competition to disappear
  • I don't understand who would side with Qualcomm on this. Sorry, but I'm on Apple's side for this.
  • They are barking up the wrong tree.
  • The ITC if it came down to it, but it won't. Apple will cave and give Qualcomm access to it's patents in exchange for reducing the fees Qualcomm demands. If Apple somehow defeats Qualcomm be prepared to see another tech company monopolize the market, probably one based in China where no patents but Chinese patents are valid. I'd love to see Apple complain to the Chinese government about patents like this.
  • Exactly. Qualcomm did it before. ITC banned Nokia phones and HTC phones in the past.
  • I wish someone would ban Qualcomm.
  • Giving apple a taste of its own medicine👍
  • So Apple are using Qualcomm patents from 2017 in their current phones which were released in 2016?
  • Patents are usually applied for (patent pending) way before a patent is formally issued. So yes, it is possible for a 2016 phone to breach a 2017 patent.
  • Yes, but I don't suppose microchips are created overnight either. There is probably a long period from when the chip is in the design process to when it actually gets put in a phone.
  • Apple licensed Qualcomm technology and patents for all previous iPhones. It just tries to avoid paying it in 2017.
  • Qualcomm is suing Apple for the phones it uses with Intel chips inside. Surely it is Intel the should be suing?
  • Nope, Qualcomm is suing Apple for throttling the speed of Qualcomms modems which are faster than the Intel versions which Apple also uses. Basically making the Qualcomm modem as slow as the inferior Intel version.
  • Nope, don't think that is the reason at all.
  • that's quite normal. patents aren't just instantly handed out. it takes time to get a patent.
  • How ironic. Apple sues everyone like Samsung for copying them (Samsung had to remove the physical home button on the Galaxy S1), yet here they are copying someone else. Again, ironic, removed headphone jack to gain more money with licensing of the lightning port, now here they are not paying for licensing of Qualcomm's inventions...
  • Eh, it depends. In the international markets, it has a home button
  • Samsung had to remove the physical home button? Are you out of your mind? All of the Galaxy S series up until this year's S8 had physical home buttons!
  • I said the Galaxy S1 AND S2 US versions had to remove it. The Galaxy S3 they made a very odd shaped home button. Apple stopped whining after that (probably because now they are partners with Samsung supplying parts for them).
  • Where's the iMore article on this? There's little as entertaining as watching Mr Ritchie get himself all riled up at anyone or anything that stands up to Apple.
  • With all the crap Apple gives other companies about patents they should own up to this and pay!
  • What? Apple stealing other people's ideas and tech? Impossible!
  • I'm actually rooting for Apple here. Qualcomm has way too many bloodclaat patents to the point it's a monopoly.
  • Will be interesting to see how this pans out. Apple has wrapped itself in the American flag in spite of manufacturing everywhere else but America. For some reason, people think that Apple is all American and Samsung is foreign, even though Samsung may employ more US citizens and actually spend more in USA. Pass the popcorn!
  • Anything that smacks CRapple down is good in my eyes. It does not surprise me at all that CRapple is ripping Qualcom off, as they are been practicing under-handed business for decades.
  • It seems a bit rich apple sooking about having to pay a price for something compared to the huge prices apple asks for its handsets.
  • Well, that's extremely anti-competitive. But, they learned it from watching Apple.
  • Apple is just continuing the tradition of Steve Jobs. Stealing ideas from other companies
  • I cant respond to every Bumkin SO. Ill just leave a few.. One i find it Ironic Apple whom sues everyone for copying them is getting sued .
    To the Liberal that claimed Trump lost the popular vote. Ya he did cuz the Democrats in Cali had every ILLEGAL voting they could find . Dems pushing that you dont need ID to vote, Even though every LEGAL American is req, to have ID or a DL on them at all times.
    Go Qualcomm. Though im not a big fan of there monopolistic practices vs Mediatek . Reminds me of what Intel did vs AMD [ only AMD won a nice settlement] Apple Microsoft, Amazon, Google. Facebook, Hearst, Fox, Samsung the list of evil monopolies goes on and on.,,,
  • If every legal american had to have ID on them at all times, there'd be no swimming at public beaches.
  • Apple charges it's customers for everything. I think to be fair , they should pay in kind for the use of Qualcomm patents. It seems to me that it fair and just.
  • I meant to say it is only fair and just.