Qualcomm has filed a series of patent infringement lawsuits against Apple in China, seeking to halt iPhone sales and manufacturing in the world’s largest smartphone market, according to Bloomberg. If successful, Qualcomm could cripple Apple, whose iPhones are mostly produced in China and constitute its primary source of revenue.
The latest lawsuits were filed by Qualcomm in September 29 in Beijing’s intellectual property court, alleging that the current iPhones infringe on three patents covering power management and Force Touch technology.
“Apple employs technologies invented by Qualcomm without paying for them,” a Qualcomm spokesperson told Bloomberg.
Apple has denied the claims, and argues that the patent suits are meritless. “Apple believes deeply in the value of innovation, and we have always been willing to pay fair and reasonable rates for patents we use. In our many years of ongoing negotiations with Qualcomm, these patents have never been discussed and in fact were only granted in the last few months,” an Apple spokesperson said.
It’s just the latest salvo in a bitter legal battle that began earlier this year when Apple ordered its manufacturing partners and subsidiaries to halt royalty payments to the smartphone chip manufacturer. The iPhone manufacturer accused Qualcomm of charging an exorbitant amount for use of patents necessary to make the iPhone. Qualcomm promptly launched a series of patent countersuits in a legal dispute that stretches from South Korea to the US, where it is also seeking to halt iPhone sales.
Qualcomm has also been dealt massive fines by government regulators in various countries for anti-competitive practices. Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission handed Qualcomm a $773 million fine for monopolistic behavior. Earlier this month, a South Korean court upheld a $912 million fine for antitrust violations.
However, it’s not likely that Apple will allow the lawsuits to disrupt iPhone production. The chipmaker’s true aim is to draw Apple back into negotiations and force it to restart royalty payments.