You win some, you lose some, as they say. Though in the court of law, even a single loss can be devastating. But Apple can breathe a bit easier now that at least the regional court in Mannheim, Germany has verbally declared that it doesn’t infringe on the patents that Qualcomm insists it does. While that doesn’t immediately affect an earlier ban imposed in Munich, it could at least give Apple some legal leverage to have that decision reversed soon.
Apple and Qualcomm have been throwing lawsuits at each other left and right and in different countries for different reasons. Apple’s complaints have leaned more on Qualcomm’s unfair and illegal business practices while Qualcomm has sued Apple for patent infringement. The chip maker has already landed two major victories, one in China and one in Germany, but it seems this one got away.
There is still no formal ruling but the court’s initial verbal decision has sided with Apple and finds no patent infringement in the use of Qualcomm’s chips in iPhones. That is a bit of a small relief considering the Munich decision last month effectively bans the sale of some iPhones in the country. Apple has stopped restocking iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models while newer iPhones not included in the injunction remain on sale.
Qualcomm will naturally appeal the decision but it might already be too busy defending itself in a different major case. It is currently facing the US FTC in court over accusations of monopolistic business practices. Should it lose, it will be forced to change its licensing business drastically.
For now, however, Qualcomm still has the upper hand with regards to injunctions. Certain older iPhones remain banned in China and Germany even as Apple appeals the courts’ rulings. Qualcomm, however, also has a track record of losing against antitrust cases so the tables could turn soon.