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Qualcomm (QCOM) Slaps Apple With Patent Infringement Charges


Qualcomm Inc QCOM recently filed three new patent infringement complaints against tech giant Apple Inc AAPL.

The leading wireless chipset manufacturer claimed that another 16 of its patents were being used by Apple in its iPhones. The three cases were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego.

The filing is in response to Apple’s latest counterattack against Qualcomm. On Nov 29, 2017, Apple alleged that Qualcomm's Snapdragon mobile phone chips, which power various Android-based devices, infringe Apple's patents.

The Story So Far

Qualcomm’s filing is the latest development in the legal war between the companies over patents. The companies have been battling over licensing royalty payments since January 2017. Apple slapped a $1-billion lawsuit on Qualcomm. Qualcomm was accused of overcharging for chips and refusing to pay around $1 billion in promised rebates. This suit was counter attacked by Qualcomm in April 2017, by clearly mentioning the value of invented technologies, their contribution and share in the industry through licensing program. The filing included details about Apple’s illegal and improper handling of agreements and negotiations with device manufacturers, misleading regulators to attack Qualcomm around the world and not utilizing the full performance of Qualcomm's modem chips in its iPhone7.

In July 2017, Qualcomm filed a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) against Apple for infringing six of its patents covering various aspects of mobile phone technology. Qualcomm had requested ITC to investigate the tech giant’s infringing imports and issue a Limited Exclusion Order (LEO) in order to ban importation of iPhones and other products linked with the patent in the United States.

Before the dispute was solved, Apple reverted with strong backups. The company garnered the support of Silicon Valley biggies and its suppliers in the legal spat with Qualcomm. Per media reports, the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) — which includes names like Alphabet, Amazon.com Inc., Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp, Samsung Electronics, Netflix Inc, Intel Corp INTC and many more — has filed a petition with the ITC to snub Qualcomm's demand of seeking an injunction on iPhone import. Meanwhile, Apple’s suppliers have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, accusing Qualcomm of “violating” two sections of the Sherman Act, part of the U.S Antitrust Law. They have claimed that Qualcomm continues to extract additional licensing money over assembling of iPhones.

With so many twists and turns, we await results on how this dispute pans out. Moreover, Qualcomm has been long grappling with legal disputes, regulatory proceedings and their related charges.

Qualcomm’s Other Lawsuits

In October 2017, Qualcomm was fined around $23.4 billion Taiwan dollars (approximately U.S. $773 million) by the Taiwan Fair Trade Commission (TFTC) on grounds of anti-trust violations of its chip technology. Qualcomm is being accused for the prices charged for mobile phone chips and patents, which are in violation of Taiwanese competition law. In May 2017, Qualcomm settled a licensing dispute with BlackBerry Limited BB by paying $940 million.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is also suing Qualcomm over its licensing practices.

We expect Qualcomm to resolve all such disputes and focus on growth strategies.

Zacks Rank & Price Performance

Qualcomm currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Qualcomm portrays an impressive price performance. In the past month, shares of the company have returned 21.0% compared with the industry’s rally of 11.8%.

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