Qualcomm may have scored another big win against Apple, this time in Germany, but it probably shouldn’t celebrate just yet. Because if Internet sleuths are correct, the chip maker might find itself in even deeper trouble than before. According to those following the patent infringement case from the sidelines, Qualcomm effectively blocked key evidence from being presented in the German court, the same key evidence that led a US court to rule that Apple did not infringe on the said patent.
The patent in focus is one on envelope tracking or how the battery is managed when wireless radios are used. This technology is supplied by chip maker Qorvo for Intel-based iPhones and the company was sued by Qualcomm in the US for the very same patent but Qualcomm lost that case.
It won in Germany through what third-party patent sites are basically calling “gamesmanship”. Qualcomm refused to hold Qorvo’s evidence as confidential, meaning that Qorvo’s testimony would give Qualcomm’s engineers free access to Qorvo’s trade secrets. In other words, Qualcomm accused Apple of doing something illegal but has prevented Apple from defending itself without harming its supplier Qorvo.
This latest development may put a spotlight on how Qualcomm’s victories in other territories may have been built on fragile legal maneuverings that would not fly in US courts. In China, for example, the injunction to ban iPhones was granted without giving Apple notice of the complaint.
Qualcomm may very well need those cunning strategies back at home where it faces an even bigger trial. The FTC has sued it over anti-trust business practices and faces a $9 billion fine in damages alone. While recent events can hardly be used as evidence in court, it paints a picture of a company that will use every trick in the book to win.