ITC suggests Apple infringed on Qualcomm battery patent as potential import ban looms

As Apple’s legal battle with Qualcomm continues to drag on, the United States International Trade Commission recommended yesterday that a trade judge find Apple guilty of infringing upon at least one of Qualcomm’s patents.

As reported by Reuters, this decision from the ITC doesn’t constitute a ruling, but rather a mere suggestion for judges. In many cases, however, the judges often follow what the ITC decides.

Qualcomm has requested an import ban on infringing iPhones. The chipmaker hopes that such a ban – or even a threat of one – would push Apple to settle or drop its legal war against Qualcomm.

If the ITC judge decides to ban some iPhone imports, Qualcomm could use that to try to persuade Apple to settle or drop several of the other patent and contract cases, legal experts have said.

The two parties are engaged in more than a dozen legal fights over patents, licensing, and contracts. Given the extent of the case, a decision isn’t expected until January.

The patent in question relates to battery-saving technology, but Apple argues that Qualcomm’s patents are invalid. Furthermore, Apple says Qualcomm is attempting to use the ITC as a tool to perpetuate its “ill-gotten monopoly position.”

“Qualcomm is selectively asserting its patents to target only Apple products containing Intel chipsets — even though its patent infringement allegations would apply equally to Apple products containing Qualcomm chipsets — in an attempt to use the ITC as another mechanism for perpetuating its ill-gotten monopoly position,” Apple wrote.

Qualcomm, however, says that its practices are legal and have been accepted by customers “for many years as the smartphone industry boomed.”

Ultimately, while the ITC decision isn’t the final word, it does potentially spell trouble for Apple as its case against Qualcomm continues. We’ll be sure to keep you updated with the latest developments.

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