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Jury Finds Apple Guilty of Violating Three Qualcomm Patents, Orders to Pay $31 Million


In a major blow to Apple, the federal jury in San Diego has found Apple guilty of violating Qualcomm’s patents and awarded it about $31.6 million in damages. The three patents relate to graphics processing, how a smartphone can quickly connect to the internet once turned on, and the third patent pertains to how app data is moved between the processor and modem.

The suit was originally filed by Qualcomm in 2017. The $31.6 million damage amount was calculated on the basis of $1.41 per infringing iPhone which includes the iPhone 7, iPhone 8, and iPhone X.

While this is a major blow to Apple, a bigger battle involving billions of dollars is set to start from next month. That trial will question Qualcomm’s business practices and how it licenses its patents to companies.

“Qualcomm’s ongoing campaign of patent infringement claims is nothing more than an attempt to distract from the larger issues they face with investigations into their business practices in U.S. federal court, and around the world,” Josh Rosenstock, a spokesman for Apple, said in a statement. “While we are disappointed with the outcome, we thank the jury for their service in this case.”

During the closing argument, APple’s counsel Juanita Brooks said Qualcomm’s real reason behind the lawsuit was to get back at the company for inducting Intel as a second modem supplier in its supply chain in 2016. Up until then, Apple used to exclusively use Qualcomm modem in its devices.

“Qualcomm went into a drawer, dusted off some old patents, and threw them against the wall to see if they’d stick,” Brooks said. In response, Qualcomm counsel David Nelson said, “We’re entitled to get return on our intellectual property.”

This was the same trial in which Apple’s counsel claimed that one of its former engineers helped in creating the technology patented by Qualcomm. That engineer, Arjuna Siva, first backed out of appearing before the jury to testify in the court, though he never claimed or said that he should also be credited with creating the technology.

Our Take

Apple needs to worry about the trial that goes into hearing next month rather than this one. If the company ends up losing that trial, it could see itself having to make payments of more than a billion dollar to Qualcomm and it could have other repercussions on its business as well. That’s the trial that the entire smartphone industry will be watching closely because of its significance.

We Want to Hear From You

What are your thoughts on Qualcomm winning this trial against Apple? Do you think Qualcomm deserved a win here and Apple is being unfair to the chip maker?

[Via Bloomberg]

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