Apple ‘broadens legal attack on Qualcomm’

Apple has broadened its legal attack on chip maker Qualcomm by arguing to a US federal court that license agreements that make Qualcomm a cut of every iPhone manufactured were invalid, Reuters reported.

Apple sued Qualcomm in January arguing the chip maker improperly withheld $1 billion in rebates because Apple helped Korean regulators investigate Qualcomm.

Apple’s initial lawsuit was relatively narrow — but the new filing broadens Apple’s claims and seeks to stop Qualcomm’s longstanding business model using a legal theory based on a ruling last month.

In that ruling, the US Supreme Court made it harder for manufacturers and drug companies to control how their products are used or resold, ruling against printer company Lexmark International in a patent dispute over another company’s resale of its used ink cartridges.

In a Tuesday brief seen by Reuters, Apple took aim at Qualcomm’s practice of requiring customers to sign patent license agreements before purchasing chips, known in the industry as “no license, no chips”.

The license allows Qualcomm to take a percentage of the overall selling price for iPhone in exchange for supplying the modem chips that let phones connect to cellular data networks.

Apple argued that the ruling involving Lexmark showed that Qualcomm was entitled to only “one reward” for its intellectual property and products, Reuters reported.

Qualcomm should be allowed to charge for either a patent license or a chip, but not both, Apple argued.