Qualcomm and Apple's legal sparring has reached new heights. The chipmaker now seeks to ban the sale and manufacture of iPhones in China in a new lawsuit, its biggest threat thus far to the Cupertino, California, tech firm in a longstanding and toxic legal battle.
Qualcomm Fires Shots Against Apple In A New Chinese Lawsuit
In its lawsuit, Qualcomm claims Apple violates three patents, though none of which are essential to any industry standards, which means Qualcomm isn't forced to license them. The company filed it in a Beijing intellectual property court seeking injunctive relief, according to Qualcomm spokesperson Christine Trimble.
"Apple employs technologies invented by Qualcomm without paying for them," she said, as Bloomberg reports. The patents apparently refer to power management and the Force Touch feature on Apple's more recent iPhone models.
What Apple Has To Say About Qualcomm's Latest Attack
Responding to the lawsuit, Apple called Qualcomm's claims meritless and that the lawsuit won't amount to anything. Apple also regarded the legal move as opportunistic, especially since Qualcomm had not brought up the patents during previous negotiations and had only issued them recently.
Those patents, according to Trimble, "are a few examples of the many Qualcomm technologies that Apple uses to improve its devices and increase its profits."
This comes as Qualcomm's second attempt to get iPhones banned entirely. Back in July, the company tried to request the U.S. government to prevent new iPhones from coming into the country and stop sales of units that were already inside. At the time, the company cited six patent violations, which is half the number of patent violations in contrast with this current lawsuit.
The Verge speculates that this lawsuit isn't going to get anywhere. It seems ludicrous to imagine iPhone sales and manufacturing to stop in China — the country where most iPhones are made. If anything, this maneuver seems like some sort of revenge for Qualcomm after Apple's various lawsuits against the chipmaker.
It's also highly unlikely for iPhone sales to suddenly halt in the country, as that scenario would cause layoffs at Apple's suppliers, such as Hon Hai Precision Industry, which Bloomberg notes are major employers.
Even so, this fight doesn't seem to be finishing anytime soon. The bitter — perhaps even petty at times — legal battle kickstarted back in January, when Apple filed a $1 billion lawsuit alleging Qualcomm demanded license royalties "for technologies they have nothing to do with," CNBC reported at the time.
Most recently, Qualcomm made a subtle jab against Apple before its iPhone 8 and iPhone X unveiling, publishing a blog post listing a number of innovations that Android and Qualcomm did first, implying Apple is nothing but a mere copycat.