When you are slapped with a patent lawsuit, one of the best ways to turn the tables is to have those patents invalidated. It is definitely easier and perhaps cheaper than arguing in court that you didn’t infringe on them anyway. Apple is no stranger to that tactic and is now pulling the same strategy on Qualcomm over four of the chip maker’s patents. Those same patents are, of course, the ones that Qualcomm is suing Apple for.
According to Bloomberg, Apple has filed a petition with the US PTO Patent Trial and Appeal Board to cancel Qualcomm’s patents on automatic focus on a digital camera, a phone with a personal digital assistant, touch-sensitive displays, and efficient circuit memory. As with any case such as this, Apple will be required to show prior art, meaning that the patents in question are not exactly new when Qualcomm applied for them. Considering those patents are part of Qualcomm’s 2017 lawsuit, having them invalidated practically erases Apple’s problem.
Of course, that’s just one problem in a growing pile of back and forth between the two companies. Apple fired the opening salvo when it sued Qualcomm last year for its illegal and monopolistic business practices. Some, however, also see it as a way for Apple to “convince” Qualcomm to agree to certain price changes.
Unsurprisingly, Qualcomm fought back though in a different court. It sued Apple for infringing on several of its patents. It has even gone so far as file a complaint with the US International Trade Commission to block imports of iPhones and iPads with Intel modems on the grounds of patent infringement. ITC staff agreed and filed a recommendation with the judge hearing the matter.
Just like the Apple v Samsung lawsuits, this could drag on for years before seeing any resolution, which will most likely be in the form of a settlement. Unfortunately for Qualcomm, Apple simply started a domino effect that has given other companies and even government ammo to investigate Qualcomm’s business.