The International Trade Commission has disclosed that it will be investigating Apple over allegations that it infringed on patents belonging to Qualcomm in certain iPads and iPhones. This could potentially lead to a ban on imports of certain Apple devices.
The decision by the International Trade Commission is the latest in a patent dispute between Apple and Qualcomm. Apple is fighting to have the licensing fee paid based on the modem’s value while Qualcomm wants the licensing fee based on the device’s value. Qualcomm argues that its technology is used beyond the modem and includes such things as audio or video compression technology, image processing and GPS location.
Hearings by a judge on administrative law will consequently be heard. It is expected that between 12 and 16 months will be required by the International Trade Commission to conduct an investigation of the infringement claims and consequently remedy the situation by imposing a ban for instance. No decision has been made by the International Trade Commission regarding the case’s merits.
Though it is only a small step, this is one of the few instances so far where the chipmaker has gained some ground in its ongoing dispute with the iPhone maker. Apple’s position has received the support of tech industry heavyweights and anti-trust regulators.
“We look forward to the ITC’s expeditious investigation of Apple’s ongoing infringement of our intellectual property and the accelerated relief that the commission can provide,” said Don Rosenberg, Qualcomm’s General Counsel, in a statement.
According to a spokesperson for Apple, the reason the dispute has been referred to the courts is because Qualcomm has declined to negotiate for reasonable terms. Apple has maintained that it is only willing to pay a rate that is fair for standard technology. Earlier in the year Apple filed a suit which attacked the patent licensing model that Qualcomm uses by arguing that the chipmaker collects royalties and fees on technology which it did not invent. Qualcomm disputes this saying its technology is vital to the whole of the iPhone. Currently Apple pays about $10 in licensing fees for every iPhone for using Qualcomm’s technology.