Chinese Court Grants Qualcomm Preliminary Injunctions Against Apple, Bans Sale of Older iPhones

A Chinese court has banned the sale of a number of recent iPhone models citing infringement of two Qualcomm patents.

A Chinese court has ordered that four of Apple’s Chinese subsidiaries must immediately stop the “importation, sale and offers for sale in China of the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X,” Qualcomm said Monday in a statement. The court granted Qualcomm’s request for preliminary injunctions against the Apple subsidiaries related to two of the chipmaker’s patents, according to the statement.

The aforementioned iPhone models feature Qualcomm technology, which Qualcomm accuses Apple of using without paying Qualcomm the necessary licensing fees.

The patents in question revolve around consumers having the ability to “adjust and reformat the size and appearance of photographs,” as well as consumers’ ability to “manage applications using a touch screen when viewing, navigating, and dismissing applications on their phones.”

“We deeply value our relationships with customers, rarely resorting to the courts for assistance, but we also have an abiding belief in the need to protect intellectual property rights,” Qualcomm executive vice president and general counsel Don Rosenberg said in a prepared statement. “Apple continues to benefit from our intellectual property while refusing to compensate us. These Court orders are further confirmation of the strength of Qualcomm’s vast patent portfolio.”

In the wake of the ruling, Apple doesn’t appear to be flustered in the slightest and says it will continue selling all iPhone models in China.

“Qualcomm’s effort to ban our products is another desperate move by a company whose illegal practices are under investigation by regulators around the world,” Apple said in a statement. “All iPhone models remain available for our customers in China. Qualcomm is asserting three patents they had never raised before, including one which has already been invalidated. We will pursue all our legal options through the courts.”

The preliminary injunction blocks the sale and import of iPhones into China, but not the manufacture or export of the devices, so the direct impact is limited to the domestic Chinese market.

Still, the court ruling represents a significant disruption to Apple’s business and could bring the two parties to the negotiating table in their long litigation war.