Apple Ups Ante in Qualcomm Lawsuit by Referencing US Supreme Court Decision

Apple is stepping up its patent fight against semiconductor giant Qualcomm, as the Cupertino company Tuesday filed a brief to a federal court in the Southern District of California, accusing Qualcomm of operating an illegal business model.

According to a Bloomberg report, the iPhone maker amended its January lawsuit in San Diego federal court, which alleges Qualcomm illegally charges too much to license its cellular patents. The amendments include arguments from a May Supreme Court decision that details when certain patent rights are “exhausted,” which Apple claims is favorable to its case.

Allegedly, Qualcomm has a regular practice of making its customers sign a patent license agreement before selling them chips. This means that Qualcomm customers pay both the price of the chips as well a cut of every device produced with said chips under the license agreement.

Apple referenced a lawsuit against laser printer manufacturer Lexmark, saying that it showed that Qualcomm was entitled to only “one reward” for its products. This means that, according to Apple, Qualcomm should be allowed to charge either licensing fees, or per chip sold.

Apple executives briefly addressed the company’s ongoing patent-licensing dispute with Qualcomm last month during a post-earnings conference call. CEO Tim Cook noted that Apple is withholding patent licensing payments to Qualcomm because of the issue. “You can’t pay something when there’s a dispute about the amount,” he explained.

“There hasn’t been a meeting of the minds there,” Cook continued, adding that Qualcomm is attempting to charge Apple royalties based on the total value of the iPhone. That doesn’t make sense, Cook explained, because Qualcomm only supplies the device’s silicon while Apple builds much of the rest of the phone.

Apple’s latest move escalates a major standoff between the two tech heavyweights even as Qualcomm fights multiple other legal battles around the world.

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