Qualcomm calls for US regulators to ban import of Intel-powered iPhones

Continuing its ongoing feud with Apple, Qualcomm sues the iPhone maker and asks a federal agency to step in.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

Alleging that Apple is infringing on Qualcomm patents, Qualcomm on Thursday filed a complaint with a US regulatory agency, asking it to bar the import of some iPhones and other products into the US.

More specifically, Qualcomm is asking the US International Trade Commission (ITC) to issue a Limited Exclusion Order (LEO) against iPhones that use cellular baseband processors other than those supplied by Qualcomm's affiliates.

Additionally, Qualcomm is seeking a Cease and Desist Order to bar the sales and marketing of any allegedly infringing Apple products already imported. The chipmaker also filed a patent infringement suit against Apple in the US District Court for the Southern District of California.

The complaints represent the latest blow in the ongoing feud between Apple and Qualcomm. Last month, Apple filed a brief in federal court complaining that Qualcomm's attempt to charge a license fee for every iPhone manufactured amounted to an illegal business model.

The legal saga between the two companies started in January, when Apple filed a suit against Qualcomm accusing the semiconductor giant of overcharging for chips and withholding nearly $1 billion in contractual rebate payments.

In response to Qualcomm's actions on Thursday, Apple reiterated its prior comments:

"Qualcomm's illegal business practices are harming Apple and the entire industry," the company said when it filed its suit against Qualcomm last month. "They supply us with a single connectivity component, but for years have been demanding a percentage of the total cost of our products - effectively taxing Apple's innovation."

The six patents in question, Qualcomm said Thursday, all enable high performance in a smartphone while extending battery life. Each does so in a different way for different smartphone features. The patents are "vital to iPhone functions," Don Rosenberg, Qualcomm EVP and general counsel, said in a statement.

"Qualcomm's inventions are at the heart of every iPhone and extend well beyond modem technologies or cellular standards," Rosenberg said. "Apple continues to use Qualcomm's technology while refusing to pay for it."

Qualcomm expects the ITC investigation to begin August and for the court case to be tried next year.

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