Apple found guilty of violating Qualcomm's patents

A San Diego jury ruled that Apple violated three separate Qualcomm patents and awarded the chip maker $31 million after a two-week trial. The case revolved around Apple’s alleged implementation of Qualcomm’s proprietary technology in certain iPhone models.

In February, the trial’s judge limited the range of damages Qualcomm could seek. Consequently, the electronics component manufacturer isn’t eligible to receive payment for each and every year copyright infringement took place. Instead, the chipmaker was awarded $1.41 for every iPhone sold using their patented technology.

This settlement comes just before a much larger hearing between the two companies that will take place next month. That dispute involves Qualcomm alleging Apple owes it billions of dollars in royalty payments.

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With these back-to-back conflicts, it’s easy to forget that from 2011-2016, Qualcomm maintained a happy relationship with Apple. Back then, the California semiconductor company was their sole supplier of chip components. But then Apple began sourcing chips from Intel, and the iPhone maker claims this motivated Qualcomm’s legal action.

Evidently, the California jury didn’t see things Apple’s way (and neither did courts in Germany and China).

Overview of Apple’s Patent Infringements

The suit, originally filed by Qualcomm back in 2017, details how Apple used the company’s proprietary technologies in the construction of the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, and X.

The first patent violation deals with flashless booting technology. The semiconductor firm’s tech allows smartphones to rapidly connect to the internet after being turned on by eliminating separate flash memory costs.

The second infringed patent involves data management tech that lets smartphone applications receive data from the internet quickly. It does this by directing select data between an apps processor and the device’s modem. As a result, this “data traffic cop” notably increases a user’s browsing speed.

The third and final unauthorized claim concerns Qualcomm’s patent for enhanced instruction execution in graphics processing. This technology increases the richness of mobile gaming graphics while at the same time reducing battery drain.

Qualcomm and Apple’s Continuing Conflict

In spite of the large settlement in this case, Apple and Qualcomm aren’t likely to be friends again anytime soon. The pair of tech industry titans have spent the last few years exchanging antitrust and improper sharing of proprietary code lawsuits.

One or two legal victories seem to mean little to either side. Today, Qualcomm won. But it is possible that next month’s rulings will favor Apple. As of now, all anyone can do is keep their eyes on these patent battles and watch for which tech giant comes out on top next.

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