Mobile phone chip supplier Qualcomm Inc on Friday won a legal victory against iPhone maker Apple Inc, with a jury in federal court in San Diego finding that Apple owes Qualcomm about $31 million for infringing three of its patents.
While the end of the Qualcomm-Apple courtroom battle is far from reaching its end, a US judge issued a preliminary ruling that might not make Qualcomm happy. Billions of dollars are at stake in that trial, which goes to the heart of the licensing dispute between the tech giants. "While we are disappointed with the outcome, we thank the jury for their service in this case".
The payments were part of a business cooperation agreement between the two companies amid the peculiar patent licensing practices of the consumer electronics industry.
Gaston Kroub, a patent lawyer in NY not involved in the case, said the verdict was clearly a win for Qualcomm. USA courts have been unwilling to order outright sales bans and favor financial remedies.
"Today's unanimous jury verdict is the latest victory in our worldwide patent litigation directed at holding Apple accountable for using our valuable technologies without paying for them".
'The three patents found to be infringed in this case represent just a small fraction of Qualcomm's valuable portfolio of tens of thousands of patents, ' Rosenberg said in a statement. "The technologies invented by Qualcomm and others are what made it possible for Apple to enter the market and become so successful so quickly", said Don Rosenberg, Qualcomm's general counsel. About 1.4 billion smartphones were sold a year ago, according to IDC.
But the setting of a per-phone royalty rate for Qualcomm's technology gives the chip supplier a fresh line of attack in its two-year old legal battle with Apple. The judge sided with Apple in this issue, ordering Qualcomm to pay the $1 billion it owed.
Qualcomm, in turn, alleged that it stopped paying the rebate payments because Apple had broken the agreement by urging other smartphone makers to complain to regulators and making "false and misleading" statements to the Korean Fair Trade Commission, which was investigating Qualcomm over antitrust allegations.
Apple has switched to using Intel Inc. chips in its phones.
Qualcomm hailed the verdict as a validation of its technology's importance to iPhones. The trial concluded in San Jose, California, earlier this year, but the judge still hasn't ruled.
Judge Gonzalo Curiel of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California ruled yesterday that Qualcomm owes Apple almost $1 billion in patent royalty rebate payments.