Apple violated Qualcomm patent, several iPhone models to be banned: German court

At the heart of the dispute is a patent involving a battery-saving feature called Envelope Tracking.

Update: Apple has confirmed that it will appeal the ruling. Sales of iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models will be halted at Apple retail stores in the country. The devices will continue to be sold by third-party retailers and telecom operators.

Qualcomm has been granted an injunction against Apple in one of several long-running legal disputes between the two tech giants. In this case, the injunction was granted by a German court, where the judge ruled that certain iPhone models using Intel and Qorvo chips violated a Qualcomm patent. Qorvo is a supplier for Apple. As a result of the ruling, several iPhone models containing the infringing component will be banned in Germany.

Apple can, and most likely will, appeal the ruling, which means that the ruling will not go into immediate effect.

The patent in question involves a process called ‘Envelope Tracking’, where the power to a radio frequency amplifier is continually adjusted for optimum power efficiency. This improves battery life when a radio signal (cellular or wireless) is active.


As reported by CNBC, Qorvo maintains that its chips do not infringe on Qualcomm’s patent. The company also expressed disappointment that the creator of their own envelope tracking chip wasn’t allowed to testify. Qorvo notes that the US counterpart to the patent issue has already been cleared the International Trade Commission.

“Competition authorities around the world have repeatedly found Qualcomm’s licensing practices unlawful, yet Qualcomm continues to try to achieve the same results through a campaign of patent lawsuits. These lawsuits have been largely unsuccessful, and at best would reduce innovation and raise prices,” Steven Rodgers, Intel’s general counsel, said in a statement.

Apple and Qualcomm are involved in several legal disputes. Image: Reuters

Apple and Qualcomm are involved in several legal disputes. Image: Reuters

Apple and Qorvo were not immediately available for comment.

Qualcomm sued Apple in the regional court in Munich in July last year, seeking an injunction to halt some iPhone sales in Germany as well as monetary damages.

The case is part of a broader court conflict between the two, in which Apple has alleged that Qualcomm engaged in anticompetitive business practices to protect a monopoly on so-called modem chips, which help mobile phones connect to wireless data networks. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has also sued Qualcomm over its business practices in a case set to go to trial in California next month.

US regulators found Apple infringed one Qualcomm patent but have so far recommended against banning some iPhone sales, but a Chinese court issued a sales ban on some iPhones earlier this month. Apple said its phones remain on sale and that it believes it has complied with the Chinese court’s order, but it also made changes to its iPhone software in the wake of the ruling.

With inputs from Reuters

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.