The long-running patent dispute between Apple and wireless chip supplier Qualcomm didn’t look likely to end anytime soon, with more than 50 separate proceedings filed across 16 jurisdictions in six different countries. Apple accuses Qualcomm of unfair terms for the use of its chips and patent licenses, while Qualcomm accuses Apple of infringing those patents.

But a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst thinks key hearings in three countries could lead to a speedier than expected settlement …

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Bloomberg reports that the outcome of hearings in three countries – the US, Germany and China – could prove decisive.

While no single case will resolve everything, a number of decisions in the second half of 2018 may create an incentive to settle, Larson wrote in a recent research note.

Next week the International Trade Commission in Washington will begin a hearing on Qualcomm’s argument that Apple is infringing three patents. Qualcomm is asking the agency to ban imports of all iPhone 7 models that don’t have Qualcomm’s chips. The iPhone, which provides Apple with more than 60 percent of its sales, is manufactured in Asia.

Similarly, a court in Mannheim, Germany, is hearing a case by the chipmaker that argues iPhones using Intel Corp. chips infringe Qualcomm’s patents and should be excluded from access to Europe’s largest national market. The judge tentatively agreed with Qualcomm but put the case on hold while the European Patent Office decides whether the patent in question is valid.

And in China, the biggest market for smartphones, the Chinese Patent Review Board begins hearings this month and next to consider Apple’s request to invalidate patents that Qualcomm is trying to use against it. Decisions in those cases could come in the third quarter, according to Larson.

The paper notes that all three countries are noted for speedy patent hearings.

Although Apple appears to have the stronger case – with rulings in the USAEurope and Taiwan favoring the Cupertino company – the stakes are high: Qualcomm is seeking injunctions against iPhone models without its own chips, claiming that third-party wireless chips infringe its patents. That, says one analyst, could be the only thing which could persuade Apple to settle.

Next week the International Trade Commission in Washington will begin a hearing on Qualcomm’s argument that Apple is infringing three patents. Qualcomm is asking the agency to ban imports of all iPhone 7 models that don’t have Qualcomm’s chips. The iPhone, which provides Apple with more than 60 percent of its sales, is manufactured in Asia […]

For Apple to shift its position “some government entity or court would have to be willing to put an injunction on the iPhone,” said Matt Ramsay, an analyst at Cowen Inc.

Most observers now seem to believe that the matter will be resolved by an out-of-court settlement.


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