09 August 2017
Washington DC
Reporter: Barney Dixon

ITC investigation into Apple goes ahead

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) has voted to investigate Apple at the behest of Qualcomm.

Qualcomm had claimed that Apple’s importation of the iPhone infringed six of its patents. The semiconductor company is seeking a cease and desist order, as well as a limited exclusion order.

The ITC will set a target date for completing the investigation within 45 days of its institution.

Qualcomm also filed a lawsuit against Apple in the US District Court for the Southern District of California, accusing Apple of infringing the same six patents.

The complaint was lodged in response to several anti-trust complaints from Apple, including a $1 billion lawsuit in the US and a separate accusation in China.

Executive vice president and general counsel at Qualcomm, Don Rosenberg, said: “Qualcomm’s inventions are at the heart of every iPhone and extend well beyond modern technologies or cellular standards.”

“The patents we are asserting represent six important technologies, out of a portfolio of thousands, and each is vital to iPhone functions.”

He added: “Apple continues to use Qualcomm’s technology while refusing to pay for it. These lawsuits seek to stop Apple’s infringement of six our patented technologies.”

Apple has received support from technology companies in the investigation, with the Computer & Communications Industry Association, whose 22 members include key Apple competitors, Samsung, Google and Microsoft, claiming that a ban on Apple devices would “harm consumers” and enable Qualcomm’s “anti-competitive behaviour”.

CCIA president and CEO Ed Black said last month: “Qualcomm is already using its dominant position to pressure competitors and tax competing products.”

“If the ITC were to grant this exclusion order, it would help Qualcomm use its monopoly power for further leverage against Apple, and allow them to drive up prices on consumer devices.”

Earlier this month, Qualcomm CEO Steven Mollenkopf hinted that the litigation with Apple could be settled out of court.

Speaking to CNBC’s David Faber, he said: “It could just be a situation where a solution just appears.”

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