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Qualcomm seeks China iPhone ban, escalating Apple legal fight

Chipmaker files patent suit against its customer in China

Ian King | Bloomberg 

Apple Senior Vice-President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, at the launch of iPhone X on September 12.	Photo: Reuters
Apple Senior Vice-President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, at the launch of iPhone X on September 12. Photo: Reuters

filed lawsuits in seeking to ban the sale and manufacture of iPhones in the country, the chipmaker’s biggest shot at so far in a sprawling and bitter legal fight.

The San Diego-based company aims to inflict pain on in the world’s largest market for smartphones and cut off production in a country where most iPhones are made. The product provides almost two-thirds of Apple’s revenue. filed the suits in a Beijing intellectual property court claiming patent infringement and seeking injunctive relief, according to Christine Trimble, a company spokeswoman.

employs technologies invented by without paying for them,” Trimble said. An spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday. shares gave up some gains from earlier on Friday, while stock maintained small losses.

Qualcomm’s suits are based on three non-standard essential patents, it said. They cover power management and a touch screen called Force Touch that uses in current iPhones, said. The inventions “are a few examples of the many technologies that uses to improve its devices and increase its profits,” Trimble said.

The company made the filings at the Beijing court on September 29. The court has not yet made them public.

The two companies are months into a legal dispute that centres on Qualcomm’s licensing business. While gets the majority of its sales from making phone chips, it pulls in most of its profit from charging fees for patents that cover the fundamentals of all modern phone systems.

The latest suits come at a crucial time for It just introduced iPhone 8 and X models aimed at reasserting leadership in a market that’s steeped in competition from fast-growing Chinese makers. Suppliers and assemblers in are rushing to churn out as many new iPhones as possible ahead of the key holiday season, so any disruptions would likely be costly. The Greater region accounted for 22.5 per cent of Apple’s $215.6 billion sales in its most recent financial year.

The legal battle started earlier this year when filed an antitrust suit against arguing that the chipmaker’s licensing practices are unfair, and that it abused its position as the biggest supplier of chips in phones. charges a percentage of the price of each handset regardless of whether it includes a chip from the company, and is sick of paying those fees.

has countered with a patent suit and argued that Cupertino, California-based encouraged regulators from South Korea to the US to take action against it based on false testimony. 

First Published: Sat, October 14 2017. 00:44 IST
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