One of the biggest court fights in Silicon Valley flared up again Tuesday, as Apple alleged “mounting evidence” against chip maker Qualcomm’s royalty payment system partly due to a recent Supreme Court ruling.
The legal battle centers around Apple’s obligation to pay Qualcomm royalties for each wireless device that contains the company’s chip technology. Apple’s new claims, filed on Tuesday in San Diego, seek to overthrow Qualcomm’s entire business model as “illegal.” Apple argues that Qualcomm is unfairly charging rates for patents and even demanding invalid license royalties.
In the claim, Apple called the invalid royalties “double-dipping” and demanded restitution for all the excess it had to pay.
Apple’s 160-page filing largely centers on a Supreme Court ruling on patents from last month. In May, the high court found that patent law cannot stop the resale of Lexmark printer cartridges refilled with toner by third-party suppliers, curbing the power of patent owners over sold products.
Citing the Lexmark decision, Apple argues that once a customer buys a phone with Qualcomm technology the chip maker is already paid, and any additional royalties charged is a double-dip and a violation of U.S. patent law.
The acrimonious divorce between Apple and its longtime chip supplier has come a long way. The battle initially started with Apple suing in January for $1 billion, accusing Qualcomm of withholding payments in retaliation for Apple cooperating with South Korean regulators against the chip maker.
Qualcomm countersued in April, saying the Cupertino tech giant has breached contracts and misrepresented facts. Apple has ordered its other suppliers around the globe to stop paying the San Diego-based company.
On Tuesday, Apple aimed straight for the jugular by going after Qualcomm’s royalty-based business plan. Apple argues that while Qualcomm’s role in helping create better transmission of data and phone calls is undeniable, the modern smartphone goes beyond that in its capabilities.
In the filing, Apple also asked the court to invalidate numerous Qualcomm patents deemed “essential” to the 3G and 4G standards.
Photo: The Apple logo is seen in this September 11, 2012 file photo at the Yerba Buena Center for Arts in San Francisco. (AFP/Getty Images)
Tags: Apple, Qualcomm