The US chipmaker is looking to hurt the iPhone maker where it hurts the most; Apple’s sales in China. It is one of the biggest global markets and where a large portion of the flagship smartphones are manufactured. Qualcomm’s legal gambit to ban manufacturing and sales of the iPhones could end up crippling the global supply of the most important product for Apple Inc. However, a number of legal experts believe that there is a tough battle for Qualcomm before it can get to its destination. The two companies are embroiled in battle in several fronts all over the world from Europe to the United States and Asia.
But, the case in China is thorny in particular because almost the entire iPhone is made in the country the Foxconn. Experts said that if Qualcomm is successful in getting an injunction, it would result in a worldwide injunction because exports of the product from China would stop. Antitrust suits have been filed by Apple against Qualcomm not just in the United States, but in a dozen other countries including China, Japan, the United Kingdom and Taiwan. The American smartphone giant has alleged that unfair prices are being charged by Qualcomm for its technology.
In response, Qualcomm has complained to the International Trade Commission and wants to get injunctions filed against Apple and has also filed complaints in Germany. Now, the chipmaker wants to do the same in China. Nevertheless, lawyers have said that putting away Apple in China is no easy feat. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese people are employed by Apple suppliers so authorities may not impose a ban on production because it would impact the employment rate in the country. In addition, the lawyers said that there was very little chance that the two firms would let the matter come to an injunction.
They speculated that the primary aim of Qualcomm was to increase its leverage over the Cupertino-California based giant at the negotiating table before reaching any final settlement. It wouldn’t be until a year or two more that the threat of an injunction becomes imminent, but if it does, it will not bode well for Apple and would give Qualcomm plenty of leverage. The chipmaker has not revealed exactly which iPhone devices would be covered, but a spokeswoman for the company said that iPhone 7 was included. The patents involved in the case include Apple’s Force Touch feature seen in newer iPhones and the power saving technologies used in the devices.
Previously, Apple had stated that it pays reasonable and fair rates for any patents it uses and it added that the claims made by the chipmaker were ‘meritless’. An Apple spokeswoman said that Qualcomm is known for abusing its position and their legal efforts would fail. In 2015, Qualcomm had been fined by Chinese regulators for about $975 million pertaining to antitrust violations. Last week, it had also been announced by Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission that they would do the same and impose a fine of $774 million.