Qualcomm Sues Apple

After Apple hit Qualcomm with a barrage of lawsuits earlier this year, the chipmaker is countersuing Apple right back. Qualcomm today filed its Answers and Counterclaims to Apple’s January lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of California. The full details of the suit can be read in a 139-page document (PDF) released by Qualcomm, but the company has five key complaints — including the claim that Apple deliberately didn’t use the full potential of Qualcomm chips in iPhone 7 phones so that they wouldn’t perform better than the modems provided by Intel.

Qualcomm says that Apple “chose not to utilize certain high-performance features of the Qualcomm chipsets for the iPhone 7 (preventing consumers from enjoying the full extent of Qualcomm’s innovation),” and when Qualcomm iPhones supposedly outperformed Intel iPhones, “Apple falsely claimed that there was ‘no discernible difference’ between” the two variants.

The company also says that Apple prevented it from revealing to customers “the extent to which iPhones with Qualcomm’s chipsets outperformed iPhones with Intel’s chipsets.” As part of its five core arguments, Qualcomm says Apple “threatened” it to keep quiet about the differences between Intel and Qualcomm iPhones, preventing Qualcomm from “making any public comparisons about the superior performance of the Qualcomm-powered iPhones.”

Other complaints in the countersuit include claims that Apple breached and mischaracterized agreements and negotiations with Qualcomm, encouraged attacks on the company in a number of markets by misrepresenting facts and making false statements, and interfered with Qualcomm’s existing agreements with other companies.

Apple’s original suit against Qualcomm was filed in January this year in the United States, and claimed $1 billion from the chipmaker, arguing that it had been drastically overcharging for the use of patents. That was followed up by two additional suits — one in China and one in the United Kingdom — that also focused on patents and designs. A case filed in Beijing claimed 1 billion yuan ($145 million) for Qualcomm’s abuse of China’s monopoly laws.

Tim Cook said that Apple had “no choice” but to sue Qualcomm, even after the two companies had worked together for many years, saying that he and his company “didn’t see another way forward.” According to Cook, Qualcomm was “insisting on charging royalties for technologies that they had nothing to do with,” collecting money on features like Apple’s TouchID fingerprint readers and cameras.

The Apple suits came after the Federal Trade Commission filed its own litigation against Qualcomm in January. The FTC also took umbrage against Qualcomm’s use of its patents: specifically, how it wouldn’t sell modems to companies who didn’t also agree to pay royalties on phones that didn’t use Qualcomm modems. As part of the FTC’s case, some of the chipmaker’s other behind-the-scenes deals also came to light — including a 2007 agreement with Apple that saw Qualcomm refund some patent royalties if Apple promised not to make a WiMAX phone.

In today’s countersuit, Qualcomm says it seeks — among other things — damages from Apple for “reneging on its promises in several agreements,” and to stop Apple interfering in deals with manufacturers for iPhone and iPad parts.

Source: The Verge