Apple on Thursday filed petitions with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to challenge four patents held by Qualcomm. The move is just the latest legal volley in their ongoing licensing battle.
The two are locked in a bitter fight over the amount of royalties Apple’s suppliers should pay to use Qualcomm’s technology on telecommunications. Billions of dollars are at stake. A hearing in one case is under way at the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, and trials are scheduled for later this year in China and Germany.
Apple wants the USPTO to cancel four Qualcomm patents – covering camera autofocusing, a device that serves as a phone and a digital assistant, touch-sensitive displays, and circuit memory – on the grounds that they do not cover new ideas.
This isn’t an unusual move by Apple, who has long used challenges to patent validity as a strategy on its legal battles. Apple has in the past filed 398 such petitions with the USPTO.
A three judge review board will consider Apple’s petitions, along with any response from Qualcomm, and will make a preliminary decision on whether Apple’s arguments have legal merit. The USPTO will conduct a formal review, issuing a final decision in a year.