Lesser Law Group

Patent dispute between clashing tech giants

A patent dispute is moving forward in the Southern District of California between two major technology corporations. The litigation between Apple and Qualcomm hinges on whether the latter's alleged monopoly on chipset technologies for mobile phones led to overpayments by Apple and other equipment manufacturers. Qualcomm has previously faced investigations by the European Union and Korean regulators as well as the Federal Trade Commission, paying billions of dollars in antitrust fines over its licensing process for its patents for mobile chipsets.

Qualcomm said that its patent license complies with government regulations that require it to be "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory," or FRAND. While the chipset company said its licenses were FRAND, Apple lawyers argued that the federal judge overseeing the case should not declare that Qualcomm's licenses meet the standard. They also accused Qualcomm of using the litigation as a tool in potential future negotiations with Apple over including the chipsets in its iPhones and other mobile devices. Apple attorneys argued that the company refuses licenses to companies that manufacture their own chipsets as well as charging exorbitant fees for its licenses that far exceed the competition. As a result, Apple argued that Qualcomm's licenses do not meet the FRAND standard.

The judge asked whether the issue would be an important part of the trial, and attorneys representing both sides argued that it would. Apple attorneys said that arguments about FRAND were an important part of their case while Qualcomm lawyers said that these issues essentially addressed a potential breach of contract, saying that Qualcomm had not breached any agreements.

Intellectual property can be the most valuable asset held by many businesses, especially in the technology sector. A business attorney may work with companies of any size to take action in court when another business infringes on their trademarks, copyrights, patents or other protected ideas.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Apple, Qualcomm Patent Dispute Hurtles Toward Trial", Bianca Bruno, 01/25/2019

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