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Jury says Apple violated three Qualcomm patents, should pay $31 million

In the seemingly-never-ending saga between Qualcomm and Apple, a new win just landed in Qualcomm's corner.

Published onMarch 15, 2019

Qualcomm at CES 2019.

Yesterday, at a trial in San Diego between chipset-maker Qualcomm and technology giant Apple, a jury declared a win for Qualcomm when it decided that Apple had violated three Qualcomm patents (via CNET). The jury agreed that Apple should pay $31 million in damages.

This suit — filed in July of 2017 — is just one of the many worldwide legal battles Qualcomm is pursuing against Apple. Although this suit is one of the smaller ones, it still represents a win for Qualcomm and fuels the company’s momentum heading into one of the largest trials with Apple yet, which starts next month.

The three patents in question for this trial are all related to Apple’s most popular product, the iPhone. The gist of each is as follows:

  • Technology that allows a smartphone to quickly connect to the internet once the device is turned on.
  • Technology related to graphics processing and its effect on battery life.
  • Technology that shifts traffic between the processor and modem, allowing for faster downloads.
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According to the jury, Apple used these three patents in iPhones and didn’t properly get permission from Qualcomm to do so. During the trial, Apple tried to argue that one of its employees co-developed the first patent on the list above, and therefore should be a co-owner of the technology. The jury didn’t agree.

Obviously, $31 million is a drop in the bucket for Apple, which at one point had a valuation of $1 trillion. However, this win will boost Qualcomm’s chances at next month’s trial, which is much larger and more important and could potentially be worth billions.

That trial, which will also be held in San Diego, centers on patent royalties. Qualcomm will argue that Apple didn’t pay it the royalties it should have, while Apple will argue that Qualcomm overreaches when it comes to its patents.

NEXT: Apple might make its own modems, cutting reliance on Intel (and Qualcomm)

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