It’s Qualcomm vs. the world in the most complex, convoluted and far-reaching patent licensing conflict in the history of mobile tech-related legal squabbles of this nature, but even as the semiconductor giant needs to pay BlackBerry $940 million, its biggest concern remains Apple.
Forget Intel, Samsung, South Korean antitrust regulators and even the US government’s independent Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If the San Diego-based chipmaker loses iPhone component-supplying contracts and/or patent royalties, its revenues are going to quickly turn the investors’ mild recent disappointment into full-on rage.
But while Qualcomm appears to be resorting to desperate tactics, seeking unrealistic US iPhone import bans and calling the FTC’s case against it “incoherent”, Apple is patiently building what’s starting to sound like a sure-fire legal action and ruthless attack.
According to the Cupertino-based tech giant’s latest updated court filing, a “recent landmark decision in Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc., condemned Qualcomm’s business model as a violation of U.S. patent law.”
“The Supreme Court flatly rejected Qualcomm’s business model”, added Apple’s all-star legal team, “holding that a patent holder may demand only one reward for its patented products, and when it has secured the reward for its invention, it may not, under the patent laws, further restrict the use or enjoyment of the item.”
That’s completely different from Qualcomm’s usual shenanigans, which center around a greedy “double-dipping, extra-reward system” that its former licensing and device manufacturing partners are now trying to bring down like a feeble house of cards.
In response, Qualcomm reiterated its “innovations are at the heart of every iPhone and enable the most important uses and features of those devices”, including connectivity, high-speed data transmission and GPS navigation.
“It simply is untrue that Qualcomm is seeking to collect royalties for Apple innovations that have nothing to do with Qualcomm’s technology”, argues the San Diego company’s executive Vice President and general counsel. Is it untrue though? How long and how much can an “inventor” reasonably milk its patents for?