U.S. ITC Investigating Claims Apple Infringed on Patents Owned by Aqua Connect

The United States International Trade Commission today announced that it has launched an investigation into allegations that Apple infringed on patents owned by Aqua Connect, reports Reuters.

Little is known about the investigation at this time, but in October, Aqua Connect announced that it had filed complaints against Apple with the United States International Trade Commission and the District Court for the Central District of California accusing Apple Macs, iPhones, iPods, iPads, and Apple TVs of infringing on two of its patents.


The two patents in question include U.S. Patent RE46,386, "Updating a User Session in a Mach-derived Computer System Environment," and U.S. Patent 8,924,502, "System, Method and Computer Program Product for Updating a User Session in a Mach-derived System Environment."

According to Aqua Connect, both of the patents relate to screen sharing, remote desktop, and terminal server technology. Aqua Connect says that it built the first remote desktop solution for the Mac in 2008, which Apple later built into its iOS and macOS products without permission.
"Aqua Connect invented and built the first fully functional remote desktop and terminal server solution for Mac in 2008," said Ronnie Exley, CEO of Aqua Connect. "Initially, our product had Apple's full support. But years later, Apple built our technology into its macOS and iOS operating systems without our permission. These lawsuits seek to stop Apple from continuing to use our technology in their macOS and iOS operating systems."
Aqua Connect's complaint with the International Trade Commission asks for an exclusion order and a cease and desist order that would bar Apple from importing its products into the United States.

Aqua Connect's patent infringement lawsuit separately accuses Apple of willful infringement and seeks damages.


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Qualcomm Accuses Apple of Helping Intel Using Qualcomm Software

Qualcomm on Wednesday filed yet another lawsuit against Apple, this time accusing the company of breaching software licensing terms and using Qualcomm code to help Intel, reports Bloomberg.

According to Qualcomm, Apple breached a contract that dictates the use of software that's designed to make Qualcomm chips work with other iPhone components. Qualcomm also believes Apple may have used its access to that software to help Intel with its own modem chip development.


Since 2016, Apple has been using LTE chips from both Intel and Qualcomm in an effort to diversify its supply chain and move some production away from Qualcomm. The iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8, and 8 Plus all use a mix of Qualcomm and Intel chips.

In light of the ongoing legal battle with Qualcomm, Apple is said to be considering eliminating Qualcomm chips from its devices all together, instead adopting chips from Intel and possibly MediaTek. Rumors suggest Qualcomm has been withholding software from Apple that Apple needs to test prototype devices for next year, forcing Apple's hand.

Qualcomm and Apple have been involved in an escalating legal fight since the beginning of the year after Apple sued Qualcomm for $1 billion. Apple has accused Qualcomm of charging unfair royalties for "technologies they have nothing to do with" and failing to pay for quarterly rebates.

Apple has since stopped paying royalties to Qualcomm until new licensing fees have been worked out, as have Apple suppliers, significantly impacting Qualcomm's profits.

Qualcomm has since levied several lawsuits against Apple, accusing the company of patent infringement and asking both the United States and China to block imports and exports of some iPhone models.


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Apple Considering Eliminating Qualcomm Chips From Next Year’s iPhones and iPads

Amid an escalating legal battle with Qualcomm, Apple is designing its 2018 iPhones and iPads without Qualcomm LTE chips, reports The Wall Street Journal. Apple is instead considering using only modem chips from Intel and perhaps MediaTek in its next-generation devices.

Qualcomm is allegedly withholding software that Apple needs to test LTE chips in its iPhone and iPad prototypes, necessitating the move.


The Wall Street Journal's sources say Qualcomm stopped sharing the software following the January lawsuit Apple filed against the company, hindering Apple's development efforts, but Qualcomm claims Apple has already tested the chip that would be suitable for the next-generation iPhone.
Qualcomm said its "modem that could be used in the next generation iPhone has already been fully tested and released to Apple." The chip company said it is "committed to supporting Apple's new devices" as it does for others in the industry.
Apple has used Qualcomm modem chips in its devices for many years, but began diversifying last year with the addition of Intel modem chips in the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus. The iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus also use both Intel and Qualcomm chips. In the United States, AT&T and T-Mobile models use chips from Intel, while Verizon and Sprint models use chips from Qualcomm.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple's plans to stop using Qualcomm chips in its 2018 devices could still change. Apple could switch suppliers as late as June, three months before the launch of the 2018 iPhone.

Apple and Qualcomm have been embroiled in a legal battle since the beginning of the year after Apple sued Qualcomm for $1 billion, accusing the company of charging unfair royalties for "technologies they have nothing to do with" and failing to pay for quarterly rebates.

Apple stopped paying licensing fees to Qualcomm at that time, as did Apple suppliers. Apple maintains that Qualcomm charges excessive licensing fees by requesting a percentage of an iPhone's entire value, while Qualcomm says its technology is "at the heart of every iPhone."

Qualcomm has since countersued and filed several patent infringement lawsuits against Apple. Qualcomm has also asked the United States International Trade Commission to block imports of some iPhone and iPad models and has requested that China stop manufacturing and selling iPhones.

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Apple Ordered to Pay $506M to University of Wisconsin in A7/A8 Patent Dispute

U.S. District Judge William Conley today ordered Apple to pay $506 million to the University of Wisconsin's Alumni Research Foundation for infringing on a patent related to computer processing technology used in its A7, A8, and A8X chips, reports Reuters.

The $506 million total is nearly double the $234 million in damages that a Jury ordered Apple to pay back in 2015, with Conley adding an extra $272 million. According to Conley, Apple owes additional damages along with interest because Apple continued to infringe on the patent until it expired at the end of 2016.

The lawsuit in question dates back to 2014, when the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation accused Apple of infringing on a patent titled "Table based data speculation circuit for parallel processing computer," that was originally granted in 1998 and covers a method for improving processor efficiency.

A jury ruled that Apple's A7, A8, and A8X processors infringe on the patent, and the university has also filed a second lawsuit covering Apple's A9 chips, which has not yet been ruled on.

Apple plans to appeal the judge's decision.


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Qualcomm Says Tech Group Supporting Apple is ‘Misdirecting’ ITC With ‘Coordinated Effort’

Last week, the Computer & Communications Industry Association, a lobbying group representing Google, eBay, Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix, Intel, Samsung, and other tech companies, asked the United States International Trade Commission to reject Qualcomm's request for an import ban on some of Apple's iPhone and iPad models that use Intel chips.

The group said that banning Apple products that use Intel chips would enable Qualcomm's anti-competitive behavior and cause supply issues, resulting in harm to consumers.


Qualcomm today responded to the CCIA in a court filing, accusing the group of launching a "coordinated effort aimed at misdirecting" the ITC, reports Reuters. Qualcomm also said that the import ban it requested is not focused on Intel's chips, but the patented technology used in iPhones with Intel chips.
In its filing on Monday, Qualcomm argued that its import ban is not actually about Intel's chips, but instead concerns the patented technology that surrounds the Intel chips in current versions of the iPhone. Thus a ban on importing the phones would not hurt competition in the long term, Qualcomm argued. "Apple can purchase and utilize any LTE modem it chooses so long as it does not infringe Qualcomm's asserted patents," the company wrote.
Apple and Qualcomm have been embroiled in an ongoing legal battle following Apple's decision to sue Qualcomm in January for charging unfair royalties and refusing to pay quarterly rebates.

The fight between the two companies has escalated since then, most recently leading Qualcomm to file a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple and request an import ban for some iPhone models.

In a statement to Reuters on Qualcomm's filing this afternoon, Apple once again complained that Qualcomm makes a single chip in the iPhone but "for years [has] been demanding a percentage of the total cost of [Apple] products - effectively taxing Apple's innovation."


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Qualcomm CEO Says Out of Court Settlement With Apple Could Happen

Apple and Qualcomm have been embroiled in a bitter legal battle since the beginning of the year, and though the fight has escalated in recent weeks, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf today told Fortune that an out of court settlement is not out of the question.
"There's not really anything new going on," Mollenkopf said speaking at the Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen. About the Apple dispute, he explained "those things tend to get to resolved out of court and there's no reason why I wouldn't expect that to be the case here."
Mollenkopf went on to say that he has no specific news of a settlement and that nothing new has happened in the case. "I don't have an announcement or anything so please don't ask, he told Fortune. Mollenkopf made a similar statement back in February, but that was before the legal battle between the two companies intensified. At that time, he also said he didn't expect a public fight, something Apple and Qualcomm have not been able to avoid.


Today's interview suggests Qualcomm is still open to settlement talks, but whether that will happen remains to be seen. If Apple and Qualcomm do not settle, we can expect a legal battle that will continue on for several years.

The fight between Apple and Qualcomm started in January, after the FTC complained that Qualcomm had engaged in anticompetitive patent licensing practices. Apple sued Qualcomm for $1 billion just days later, accusing the company of charging unfair royalties for "technologies they have nothing to do with" and refusing to pay quarterly rebates.

According to Apple, Qualcomm has overcharged it by billions of dollars by "double-dipping" with unfair patent licensing agreements, while Qualcomm claims its innovations are "at the heart of every iPhone" and that the royalties are fair.

Qualcomm went on to countersue Apple in April, accusing the company of breaching licensing agreements, making false statements, and encouraging regulatory attacks against Qualcomm, which prompted Apple to stop making royalty payments to Qualcomm entirely until a court can determine the proper amount due.

Apple in late June expanded its lawsuit against Qualcomm, and at the beginning of July, Qualcomm filed a separate patent lawsuit against Apple and asked the International Trade Commission to block imports of select iPhone and iPad models.


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Qualcomm Seeks iPhone and iPad Import Ban in the United States

The legal battle between Qualcomm and Apple continues to escalate, with Qualcomm asking the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) to block imports of select iPhone and iPad models, reports Fortune. Qualcomm also wants to stop sales of devices that are already in the United States and has filed a new patent infringement case against Apple in the Southern District of California.

According to Qualcomm, Apple is infringing on six Qualcomm patents related to carrier aggregation and technologies that are designed to allow iPhones to save battery life while communicating. The six patents cited by Qualcomm were granted between 2013 and 2017 and are not licensed or standard-essential patents that are part of the ongoing Qualcomm v. Apple battle over royalty payments.


Qualcomm is asking the ITC to block all iPhones that are equipped with LTE chips from competing mobile communications companies, which would include AT&T and T-Mobile iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models equipped with Intel chips, along with some iPad models. In an interview, Qualcomm lawyer Don Rosenberg said Qualcomm is pursuing another lawsuit and an import ban because Apple is not willing to pay for the technology it uses.
"If Apple was a willing licensee and Apple was someone who was, like everybody else, willing to pay for what they use, we wouldn't be suing them on these patents," Don Rosenberg, Qualcomm's general counsel, said in an interview. "But they're not, and we felt we were put in a position, given all the lawsuits they've brought against us around the world, of not simply having to defend ourselves but having to take some affirmative action ourselves."
As noted in Qualcomm's ITC request, a possible ban on the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and future iPhones wouldn't happen for approximately 18 months, so it would not affect the devices Apple plans to release in September of 2017. Qualcomm expects the ITC to look into the complaint in August and schedule a trial for 2018, and it believes the new patent infringement case filed today could be put on hold until the ITC makes a decision on the import ban.

The dispute between Apple and Qualcomm kicked off in January, when the FTC complained that Qualcomm had engaged in anticompetitive patent licensing practices. Apple sued Qualcomm for $1 billion shortly after, accusing the company of charging unfair royalties for "technologies they have nothing to do with" and refusing to pay quarterly rebates.

Qualcomm countersued in April, accusing Apple of breaching licensing agreements, making false statements, and encouraging regulatory attacks against Qualcomm, which prompted Apple to stop making royalty payments to Qualcomm entirely until a court can determine the proper amount due.

Since then, the two companies have been fighting a bitter public battle. Apple in late June expanded its lawsuit against Qualcomm and accused the wireless chipmaker of "double-dipping" with unfair patent licensing agreements. According to Apple, Qualcomm has overcharged it by billions of dollars, while Qualcomm says its innovations are "at the heart of every iPhone."

Alongside its dispute with Apple, Qualcomm is also now facing an FTC lawsuit for using anticompetitive tactics to remain the dominant supplier of baseband processors for smartphones.


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Apple and Nokia Settle Patent Dispute With New Licensing Agreement

Nokia and Apple announced today that they have settled all litigation related to their intellectual property dispute and agreed a multi-year patent license.

Under the collaborative agreement, Nokia said it will provide "certain network infrastructure products and services" to Apple. In turn, Apple agreed to return all Nokia health products to Apple retail and online stores.

"This is a meaningful agreement between Nokia and Apple," said Maria Varsellona, Chief Legal Officer at Nokia, responsible for Nokia's patent licensing business. "It moves our relationship with Apple from being adversaries in court to business partners working for the benefit of our customers."
In December of last year, Nokia filed multiple complaints against Apple in several countries, accusing the Cupertino company of infringing several of its patents. In response, Apple sued Nokia in an antitrust lawsuit against several patent assertion entities which it claimed were trying to collect excessive fees for Nokia patents. 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.

Just days after the legal dispute flared up, Apple pulled all Withings-branded, Nokia-owned accessories from its online and retail stores around the world. Nokia stood its ground, however, claiming that it had not been able to reach a licensing agreement with Apple and therefore had to defend its rights.

Following the latest development, Nokia will receive an up-front cash payment from Apple with additional revenues forthcoming. The figure remains undisclosed, but net sales in Nokia patent licensing will reflect the value of the agreement, while Nokia expects related revenues to be reflected in the second quarter of 2017. No other details of the terms of the agreement have been released.

"We are pleased with this resolution of our dispute and we look forward to expanding our business relationship with Nokia," said Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer.


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Apple and Nokia Settle Patent Dispute With New Licensing Agreement

Nokia and Apple announced today that they have settled all litigation related to their intellectual property dispute and agreed a multi-year patent license.

Under the collaborative agreement, Nokia said it will provide "certain network infrastructure products and services" to Apple. In turn, Apple agreed to return all Nokia health products to Apple retail and online stores.

"This is a meaningful agreement between Nokia and Apple," said Maria Varsellona, Chief Legal Officer at Nokia, responsible for Nokia's patent licensing business. "It moves our relationship with Apple from being adversaries in court to business partners working for the benefit of our customers."
In December of last year, Nokia filed multiple complaints against Apple in several countries, accusing the Cupertino company of infringing several of its patents. In response, Apple sued Nokia in an antitrust lawsuit against several patent assertion entities which it claimed were trying to collect excessive fees for Nokia patents. 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.

Just days after the legal dispute flared up, Apple pulled all Withings-branded, Nokia-owned accessories from its online and retail stores around the world. Nokia stood its ground, however, claiming that it had not been able to reach a licensing agreement with Apple and therefore had to defend its rights.

Following the latest development, Nokia will receive an up-front cash payment from Apple with additional revenues forthcoming. The figure remains undisclosed, but net sales in Nokia patent licensing will reflect the value of the agreement, while Nokia expects related revenues to be reflected in the second quarter of 2017. No other details of the terms of the agreement have been released.

"We are pleased with this resolution of our dispute and we look forward to expanding our business relationship with Nokia," said Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer.


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Apple vs. Samsung Case to Return to Lower Court for Possible Damages Retrial

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit today ruled that a lower district court must decide whether a damages retrial is required in the long running legal battle between Apple and Samsung, reports CNET.

The case will return to the same San Jose, California court where it was originally heard by Judge Lucy Koh. From today's ruling:
Both parties filed statements urging us to take different actions. While Apple requests continued panel review, Samsung requests that we remand to the district court for a new trial on damages. For the reasons explained below, we adopt neither suggested course of action. Instead, we remand this case to the district court for further proceedings, which may or may not include a new damages trial.
Apple's dispute with Samsung dates back to 2011, when Apple sued Samsung for copying the iPhone's design. Apple was initially awarded nearly $1 billion in damages, but a significant part of that decision was reversed in 2015, leaving Samsung owing $548 million.

Samsung paid the $548 million in 2015, but also asked the Supreme Court to hear the case in the hopes of reimbursement, claiming it was asked to pay a "disproportionate" sum for violating Apple's design patents. $399 million of the $548 million was awarded for the design patent violation, and in December, the Supreme Court sided with Samsung, overturning that particular damages ruling.

The Supreme Court remanded the case back to the U.S. Court of Appeals to reconsider the $399 million portion of the ruling, and the lawsuit was officially reopened in January of 2017. The U.S. Court of Appeals was charged with redetermining the amount Samsung owes Apple for infringing on the design patents, a task that will now fall to the district court because the appeals court says the district court is better suited to make such a decision.

The original damages award was calculated based on the profit Samsung earned from the sale of infringing galaxy devices, but Samsung has claimed the amount should not have been based on the total profits of each device, but rather the individual components that violated the patents, which the Supreme Court agreed with.

The District Court for the Northern District of California will now consider arguments from both Apple and Samsung and determine what additional proceedings, if any, are necessary in the case.


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