As the legal dispute between Apple and Qualcomm continues, Qualcomm this week has requested an injunction to force Apple’s iPhone manufacturers to keep paying royalties during the legal battle (via Axios). Last week, Qualcomm sued four of Apple’s suppliers — Foxconn, Pegatron, Wistron, and Compal — for “breaching their license agreements” by failing to pay royalties on the use of Qualcomm’s technology in the assembly of Apple’s devices.
Now, Qualcomm is trying to force the suppliers to continue to make royalty payments amid the legal scuffle with Apple. According to Qualcomm’s general counsel, Don Rosenberg, the company believes that “it is only fair and equitable” that the suppliers pay for Qualcomm’s licensed technology.
“We are confident that our contracts will be found valid and enforceable but in the interim it is only fair and equitable that our licensees pay for the property they are using,” Qualcomm general counsel Don Rosenberg said in a statement to Axios.
In April, Apple decided to stop making royalty payments to its manufacturers in relation to Qualcomm technology, and said it would continue doing so until the conflict was resolved. Now, in an amended section of its earlier lawsuit, Qualcomm claims Apple has promised to compensate its suppliers for any monetary loss potentially faced during the lawsuit.
According to Qualcomm, this is a tactic enacted by Apple “to make litigation unbearable” and to force a settlement, because Qualcomm claims that Apple knows it would not win if the case eventually made it to court.
By withholding billions of dollars in royalties so long as Qualcomm defends itself against Apple’s claims, Apple is hoping to make litigation unbearable for Qualcomm and, thereby, to extract through a forced settlement what it knows it cannot obtain through judicial process—a below-market direct license. Apple’s tactics are egregious.
The lawsuit began with an FTC complaint regarding Qualcomm’s anticompetitive patent licensing practices, for which Apple sued Qualcomm, accusing the company of charging unfair royalties for “technologies they have nothing to do with.” The argument died down for a few months until Apple ceased royalty payments to its suppliers in April, which particularly hurt Qualcomm because the company’s licensing deals are directly with iPhone suppliers and not Apple itself.
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