US ITC will investigate Apple over Qualcomm's patent infringement claim

The U.S. International Trade Commission has revealed plans to investigate Apple over Qualcomm's claims that the company is infringing some of its patents. According to the ITC, it received a complaint from Qualcomm on July 7; following a vote, the commission decided to proceed with a probe into the matter, saying it will have its results 'at the earliest practicable time.' It notes that the commission hasn't yet made any determinations about the case's merit.

The issue revolves around Qualcomm's accusation that Apple is infringing on some of its patents via the cellular technology found in some iPhone 7 and iPad products. Qualcomm has asked the U.S. ITC to bar importation, sales, and marketing of these devices in the U.S. via a Cease and Desist Order and a Limited Exclusion Order. Whether these orders will ultimately be issued is yet to be seen.

At the heart of the matter is Apple's use of cellular baseband processors made by Intel rather than ones supplied by companies affiliated with Qualcomm; these chips are found in the company's phones for T-Mobile and AT&T. The latter company wants the phones featuring these Intel chips to be barred in the U.S., a move that would hurt consumers and Apple alike. Last month, multiple companies, including Microsoft and Google, denounced Qualcomm's request.

For its part, Qualcomm has praised the U.S. ITC's decision to investigate the claims, of which the process should be wrapped up within the next 45 days. Qualcomm's Executive VP Don Rosenberg said:

Qualcomm is pleased with the ITC's decision to investigate Apple's unfair trade practices and the unauthorized importation of products using Qualcomm's patents. 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.

This matter concerns one of six patents Qualcomm has claimed Apple is violating. The company recently filed a legal complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California against Apple over these further patent infringement claims, seeking both injunctive relief and damages. The battle isn't one-sided, though, with Apple having also hit Qualcomm with a legal claim.