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Apple Drags In Partners To Take On Qualcomm

Apple has cranked up their fight with chipmaker Qualcomm by getting key manufacturing partners to also take action against the big US Company.

Taiwanese based Compal Electronics and Hon Hai Precision Industry claim that Qualcomm is asking for payments in excess of what it would normally receive.

If successful, the counter-claims could cost Qualcomm billions of dollars in refunded fees and damages, Apple said.

While this action was going down Qualcomm was filing two new patent-infringement suits against Apple, this time in Germany.

Bloomberg said that the patents, for ways to transmit information without draining battery life, are the European counterparts to those that are part of a case Qualcomm filed with a trade agency in Washington seeking to halt imports of Apple products into the U.S. market.

The filings, in California as well as Germany, represent the latest escalation in the dispute between Apple and Qualcomm over fees the San Diego-based company charges on all modern phones, even if the device doesn’t have one of its chips. That revenue stream has made it one of the richest companies in the industry.

The dispute first surfaced in January when Apple filed a lawsuit accusing Qualcomm of overcharging it billions of dollars as part of illegal business practices. That followed the U.S. Federal Trade Commission lodging an antitrust case accusing Qualcomm of “illegally maintaining a monopoly for semiconductors used in mobile phones.” The FTC cited the fraught relationship between the two companies.

The contract manufacturers, which were dragged into the fight when Qualcomm sued them separately for payments owed by Apple, are now siding with the iPhone maker to make sure they’re not saddled with the fees.

Qualcomm said it’s yet more evidence of Apple interfering with contracts, some of which predate the existence of the iPhone.

The manufacturers called the recent Qualcomm suit against them “yet another chapter of Qualcomm’s anticompetitive scheme to dominate modem chip markets, extract supracompetitive royalties, and break its commitments to license its cellular technology on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.”

In separate filings, the manufacturers and Apple also objected to a Qualcomm request that the handset makers be forced to continue making payments while the dispute continues. There’s no harm to Qualcomm waiting to get paid until the court determines the correct amount, they said.

Qualcomm by all accounts developed technology that’s key to the fundamental way wireless devices communicate. The debate is how much that technology is worth, especially as phones become ever more complicated.

The chipmaker has contended that Apple instigated regulatory actions against it around the world by lying to government officials. Apple, in court filings, said it only testified in hearings in South Korea because it was asked to do so by officials there.

 

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