Qualcomm Now Facing Lawsuit From U.S Regulators in Addition to Ongoing Apple Feud

In January, the United States Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against Qualcomm that accused the company of using anticompetitive tactics to remain the dominant supplier of baseband processors for smartphones, violating the FTC Act. This week, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh of San Jose, California ruled that the FTC's antitrust lawsuit against Qualcomm can proceed, forcing the supplier to face legal battles both from U.S. regulators and in an ongoing $1 billion lawsuit from Apple (via Reuters).

Judge Koh denied Qualcomm's motion to dismiss the FTC's lawsuit, because the FTC had so far "adequately alleged" anticompetitive tactics were being used by Qualcomm. Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm, said that the "FTC will have the burden to prove its claims, which we continue to believe are without merit."

The Federal Trade Commission's antitrust lawsuit against Qualcomm Inc can proceed, a federal judge ruled late on Monday, meaning the iPhone chip supplier must now wage a fight with U.S. regulators even as it contests a separate $1 billion lawsuit filed by Apple Inc.

The FTC highlighted Qualcomm's "no license, no chips" policy under which the San Diego company refuses to sell chips unless customers also sign a patent license agreement and pay Qualcomm fees. Qualcomm refused to grant licenses to its rivals in order to keep a monopoly, the FTC alleged.
Although a final ruling is still far away, Rosenberg mentioned that Qualcomm looks forward to "further proceedings in which we will be able to develop a more accurate factual record." In response to the FTC's original complaint from January, Qualcomm cited a "flawed legal theory, a lack of economic support, and significant misconceptions about the mobile technology industry" in its first legal defense.

For Apple's lawsuit, the Cupertino company sued Qualcomm for $1 billion days after the FTC filed its first complaint in January, arguing the company had charged unfair royalties for "technologies they have nothing to do with." As the case continued throughout the year, in mid June Apple broadened its claims against Qualcomm, stating that Qualcomm wrongly bases its royalties on a percentage of the entire iPhone's value, despite supplying just a single component of the device.

Referred to as Qualcomm's "double dipping, extra reward system," Apple argued that these tactics were the same kind that the U.S. Supreme Court recently forbade in a lawsuit between Lexmark and a small company reselling its printer cartridges. After Qualcomm set its sights on four major Apple suppliers for failing to pay royalties on the use of Qualcomm's technology in the assembly of Apple's devices, Apple said that Qualcomm had revealed "its true bullying nature."


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Twitter, Instagram, and More Ready to Pay $5.3M Settlement to Users in 5-Year-Old Privacy Case

A proposed settlement revealed in court documents this week could lead to a collection of eight companies -- Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Kik, Gowalla, Foodspotting, Yelp, and Path -- contributing a grand total of $5.3 million to a collection pot for consumers claiming the companies violated their privacy in the early years of the iOS ecosystem (via Fortune). The settlement is the bookend to a lawsuit that began in 2012 and centered around the contact-finding feature of some iOS apps called "Find Friends."

Find Friends allows new app users to quickly and easily discover if any of the contacts in their iPhone are also using the same app. According to the lawsuit filed by a group of disgruntled consumers in 2012, these apps -- and Apple itself, which was also targeted in the lawsuit -- violated their privacy in that it never informed them that their contact lists would be transferred and saved onto company servers. The $5.3 million payout is aimed at people who used these apps between 2009 and 2012.


For five years the companies have tried to fight the lawsuit by attesting that Find Friends could never work without users' contact lists being stored on servers. In response, the court ruled that even if that was the case, the companies should have been more upfront to customers about where their contact lists were going. Now, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar must approve the settlement before it officially takes effect and customers can reap the rewards.

As Fortune pointed out, it probably won't be a huge sum considering the amount of people and the three-year time frame.
As for consumers, no one is going to get rich from the settlement since there are likely millions of people who downloaded the apps in the specified time periods described in the court documents. But as many eligible people are unlikely to apply for the money at all, it's likely those who do will get a few bucks.
Of the 18 original defendants, today Apple and LinkedIn remain the only companies targeted in the lawsuit who are challenging the settlement offer, with all other defendants ready to settle. As is usual in such cases, eligible users will be informed of the settlement via email.

Tag: lawsuits

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Apple Pulls All Withings Accessories From Apple Online Store Following Nokia Lawsuit

In the wake of its legal dispute with Nokia, Apple has pulled all Withings-branded accessories from its online store and presumably from all of its retail stores around the world.

Apple appears to have pulled the accessories in the last day or two, eliminating Withings products like the Body Cardio Scale, the Smart Body Analyzer, and the Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor. When searching for these products on Apple's site, they are no longer listed as available for purchase.

Apple has stopped offering all Withings products because Withings is owned by Nokia following a spring 2016 purchase worth an estimated $192 million. The Withings brand has been integrated into Nokia's Digital Health unit and is led by Cedric Hutchings, formerly the CEO of Withings.

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A cached version of the listing for the Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor, no longer available from Apple.com

Earlier this week, Apple filed an antitrust lawsuit accusing Nokia and several patent assertion entities of illegally transferring patents to attempt to extort excessive royalty fees from the Cupertino company. Apple had established FRAND (Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory) deals with Nokia, but by transferring patents to patent holding companies, additional royalties can be demanded.

In response, Nokia filed 40 patent infringement lawsuits against Apple across 11 countries, accusing the Cupertino company of failing to establish licensing deals for Nokia patents that cover displays, user interface, software, antenna, chipsets, and video coding.

According to Apple, Nokia has been conspiring with patent assertion entities (Acacia Research and Conversant Property Management) in an "illegal patent transfer scheme" to wring money out of Apple because Nokia's cell phone business is failing. Nokia, meanwhile, says that it has not been able to reach a licensing agreement with Apple and must defend its rights.


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