Apple brings 5G and national security into Qualcomm patent battle

As Apple and Qualcomm's ongoing legal battle over patent licensing fees continues, the two companies now find themselves before the US International Trade Commission in Washington, D.C., with the chipmaker arguing that iPhones with rival Intel modems should be banned from the country. Apple's counter position, however, includes arguing that such a move would be a threat to US national security and the development of 5G.

Recently, Apple has begun using Intel's 4G modems in some iPhone units to reduce its reliance on Qualcomm and their unfair patent licensing fees. It's these iPhones with patent-infringing Intel chips that Qualcomm argues should be banned from the US. Lawyers note that this would not only be a huge blow to Intel, but it would leave Qualcomm with an uncontested advantage in the market.

Apple's argument for national security is based on Intel's current work to develop next generation 5G modems. A ban against iPhones with their chips would hurt their market position and could have a negative affect on "the US's race to stay ahead of China in 5G" development, reports Bloomberg.

ITC staff lawyers haven't totally taken Apple's side, noting that they recommend Judge Thomas Pender rule that the company has violated one of three Qualcomm patents, but have held off on pushing for the ban based on the question if such a move would be best for the nation's interests.

"If Intel is taken out of the 5G race, this would slow the pace of US innovation," said staff lawyer Lisa Murray. She believes that future iPhone models with 5G should be exempt from any import ban, adding that "Apple and Intel would have continued incentive to invest in 5G."

SOURCE Bloomberg