Apple wins two patent rulings against Qualcomm

Qualcomm Snapdragon
Qualcomm Snapdragon (Image credit: Qualcomm)

Qualcomm's processors — at the very least, its modems — are key for any LTE-connected device in today's world. Beyond the high quality of the radios, Qualcomm is also the only company that licenses the CDMA technology that Sprint and Verizon use for their 2G and 3G networks. Earlier this year, Apple and Qualcomm began a legal battle over Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) patents that stated Qualcomm was charging unreasonable sums for patents essential to cellular technology. Qualcomm followed that up with a claim to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) stating Apple infringed on six of Qualcomm's patents.

Apple Insider reports that Judge Curiel of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California (where the legal arguments for the FRAND case are being heard) has ruled Qualcomm cannot collect intellectual property (IP) royalty payments on Apple's manufacturing partners until the total royalties amount is determined, if that happens at all. Qualcomm will now have to calculate and argue just how much royalty money will need to be recouped from Apple and its partners.

Next, Judge Curiel denied Qualcomm's motion to drop Apple's related lawsuits in other jurisdictions. Qualcomm will now be tasked with proving infringement in each location it is suing Apple, including the UK, China, Japan and Taiwan. There hasn't been any indication on the status of Qualcomm's patent claims against Apple. Additionally, the larger battle of FRAND patents is still ongoing, and it's still important to Apple and the cellular market as a whole. Licensing costs are a large part of the costs of a cell phone, so an increase in licensing fees would quickly have a ripple effect on the prices of smartphones, cellular tablets, cellular smartwatches, and cellular laptops.

Tom Westrick