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Qualcomm Once Again Calling for U.S. Import Ban on iPhones

Qualcomm Once Again Calling for U.S. Import Ban on iPhones

The ongoing legal battle between Apple and modem chip maker Qualcomm continues, and the chip maker is urging the U.S International Trade Commission (ITC) to impose a ban on the import of iPhones into the United States after they were found to infringe on a Qualcomm patent.


The U.S International Trade Commission (ITC) previously found in favor of Qualcomm in the patent dispute, but decided against an import ban. However, that decision is under review, and Qualcomm argues that Apple’s own statement justifies imposing the ban …

The ITC found in September that Apple did violate one of Qualcomm’s patents in respect of iPhones with Intel modems. It would normally impose an import ban in such circumstances, but administrative law judge Thomas Pender ruled that this would not be in the public interest.

Pender’s reasoning for the ruling was that if Intel iPhones were banned, Qualcomm would effectively have a monopoly in the U.S. smartphone modem market. The judge felt it was more important to preserve a competitive market.

According to Reuters, Qualcomm asserts that argument is no longer valid:

In filings that became public late last week ahead of the full commission’s decision, Apple for the first time said that it had developed a software fix to avoid running afoul of Qualcomm’s patent. Apple said it did not discover the fix until after the trial and that it implemented the new software “last fall” […]

In a filing late on Friday, Qualcomm argued that Apple’s disclosure of a fix undermined the reasoning in Pender’s decision and that the Intel-chipped phones should be banned while Apple deploys its fix.

“Pender recommended against a remedy on the assumption that the (Qualcomm) patent would preclude Apple from using Intel as a supplier for many years and that no redesign was feasible,” Qualcomm wrote. “Apple now admits—more than seven months after the hearing—that the alleged harm is entirely avoidable.”

The ITC is already in the process of reviewing the decision, and while it originally suggested a ruling would be in place by February 19, that date has come and gone with no ruling.

Apple has already requested a six-month delay should the ITC opt to place a U.S. import ban on iPhones. Six months would allow Apple to sell its existing inventory, and verify a fix that would satisfy regulators.