Jury fines Apple $32 million for infringing on three Qualcomm patents

In a serious blow to Apple in its legal battle with Qualcomm, a jury in San Diego has found Apple guilty of infringing on three Qualcomm-owned patents in the iPhone. The jury awarded Qualcomm $31 million in the case, which is the full amount that the company was seeking from Apple after Apple won a ruling that limited the potential payout.

The lawsuit was first filed against Apple in 2017 and there are three patents involved. The first relates to battery efficiency when it comes to processing graphics. The second has to do with how phones quickly connect to the internet after they’re turned on. The third and final patent has to do with managing data traffic in a way that allows apps to download data quicker.

It’s not just older phones that use the tech. Qualcomm claims that the patents relate to the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, and X all infringe on the patents — though it seems as though Apple has stopped using it in its most recent smartphones.

The $31 million in damages equates to $1.41 per iPhone that infringes on patents, and while that amount is spare change for Apple and Qualcomm, the victory has more to with reputation. Beyond their legal battle, Apple and Qualcomm are competitors in the consumer space, with Qualcomm supplying modems and processors or many Android manufacturers. Qualcomm even supplied modems for Apple until a few years ago before Apple made the switch to Intel tech.

This isn’t the last legal battle between Apple and Qualcomm either. The two companies are headed to court in San Diego again in April. That case originated when the Federal Trade Commission, with Apple and Intel, accused Qualcomm of being a monopoly in the modem space. The trial for the case took place in January, with a decision yet to be announced.

The two companies have also been stuck in court in other countries. In December, Qualcomm won an injunction against Apple in Germany, with the result being the banning of sales of some older iPhones. Apple later swapped out the Intel modems in German iPhones to Qualcomm ones so that it could continue selling the affected models in Germany.

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