Apple violated Qualcomm patent; judge for import ban on China-made iPhones


According to a U.S. trade judge, Apple Inc. infringes a Qualcomm Inc. patent. As a result, some imported iPhones should be blocked from the U.S, said the judge before the U.S. International Trade Commission.

ITC Judge Mary Joan McNamara told that she would recommend an import ban on specific iPhone models, which are manufactured in China. The judge’s findings are subject to review by the full commission. It has the power to block imports of products that infringe U.S. patents. A final decision is expected by July, this year.


Qualcomm surged up in the U.S trade market by 2.6 percent and was trading at $58.11 at 3 p.m. While Apple saw a decrease of less than one percent. The judge’s full findings aren’t yet public, and won’t be until both sides get a chance to redact confidential information.


The case is one of two that Qualcomm brought at the trade agency, seeking an import ban on iPhones to give it greater leverage in technology licensing negotiations. Qualcomm says that Apple has failed to clear billions of dollars in unpaid royalties on the iPhone as the two tech giants argue over the value of the chipmaker’s patents. The commission is scheduled to release its final decision in the other case later Tuesday. In that case, a separate trade judge found a violation of a different Qualcomm patent but recommended that no import ban be imposed.

In this case, Qualcomm contended that Apple iPhones with Intel Corp. chips infringed two patents related to the improvement in speed and quality of data downloads and one for a power-saving feature. It’s seeking an order that would ban imports of those iPhones.

“We appreciate Judge McNamara’s recognition of Apple’s infringement of our hardware patent and that she will be recommending an import ban and cease and desist order,” Qualcomm General Counsel Don Rosenberg said in a statement.

Although the original complaint linked that patent only to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, it was unclear which models would be affected by this decision.


Apple, however, completely denies infringing the patents and claims Qualcomm is trying to shut its only U.S.-based competitor out of the market. Qualcomm believes that Apple’s existence is causing noticeable hindrance in the development of the fifth-generation of mobile communications. In both cases at the trade agency, Apple is arguing that no import ban should be imposed even if a patent violation is found.

By all accounts, Qualcomm’s technology underpins all modern communications, and it’s a large player in the development of industry standards, spending billions of dollars on research each year. It’s also richly rewarded — the company makes money off the chips in all mobile devices and also gets paid for the use of its inventions in chips made by others.

The Federal Trade Commission has accused Qualcomm of using its patents on industry standards to shut competitors out of the market and demand high licensing fees, and the two sides await a judge’s ruling in that case. The patents, in this case, don’t relate to standardized technology, but Apple claims Qualcomm is using the ITC to maintain monopoly power.

The case is In the Matter of Certain Mobile Electronic Devices and Radio Frequency and Processing Components, 337-1093, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).