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April 11, 2017

Qualcomm, Apple in a right royal bust-up

Qualcomm fires back after Apple filed a $1bn lawsuit in January.

By Ellie Burns

The feud between Qualcomm and Apple continues to twist and turn, with the US chipmaker now accusing Apple of interfering with roytalty payments and misrepresenting the performance of its modem in the iPhone.

Qualcomm’s 134-page legal response was filed at the beginning of the week, with Qualcomm also accusing Apple of “misrepresenting facts and making false statements” in order to encourage regulatory attack. The defence also argues that Qualcomm was prevented in making any public comparisons about the superior performance of the Qualcomm-powered iPhones, as well as interfering with long-standing Qualcomm licensees.

This legal filing follows the well-publisised lawsuit filed by Apple in January, which saw the iPhone giant sue Qualcomm for $1bn. Firing back, the chipmaker is now seeking ‘significant’ damages from Apple.

READ MORE: Apple, Qualcomm head to court in billion-dollar lawsuit

In a bold statement, Don Rosenberg, Qualcomm’s general counsel, said: “Over the last ten years, Apple has played a significant role in bringing the benefits of mobile technology to consumers with its popular products and services.

“But Apple could not have built the incredible iPhone franchise that has made it the most profitable company in the world, capturing over 90 percent of smartphone profits, without relying upon Qualcomm’s fundamental cellular technologies.

“Now, after a decade of historic growth, Apple refuses to acknowledge the well established and continuing value of those technologies. It has launched a global attack on Qualcomm and is attempting to use its enormous market power to coerce unfair and unreasonable license terms from Qualcomm. We intend to vigorously defend our business model, and pursue our right to protect and receive fair value for our technological contributions to the industry.

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Qualcomm’s filing on Monday is one in a long-line of legal disputes seen between the two tech giants. The problem lies in the fact that Apple has never had a direct license for Qualcomm’s IP, instead having agreements between contract manufacturers like Foxconn.

In January, Apple filed a $1bn lawsuit alledging that Qualcomm had ‘overcharged billions of dollars’ over a number of years. The sought after $1bn in damamges, Apple claims, is the amount Qualcomm owes the iPhone maker after withholding money following Apple’s partcipation in a Korean Fair Trade Commission investigation.

READ MORE: Apple takes patent battle against Qualcomm to UK

In this latest twist, Qualcomm now wants compensation amounting to a similar number, claiming that Apple has not paid contract manufacturers, who in turn have not paid Qualcomm.

“The prospect of Apple’s continued interference threatens significant additional injury to Qualcomm,” the chipmaker said in Monday’s filing.

In response to the filing, Apple issued a statement which reiterated earlier sentiments, accusing Qualcomm of “exclusionary tactics and excessive royalties”.

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