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The Apple-Qualcomm Patent Dispute won’t be Heard by the Supreme Court

Apple asserted Qualcomm may file a new lawsuit using two patents.

Although Apple and Qualcomm may have resolved the most of their issues in 2019, the conflict may still be ongoing. According to The Verge, the Supreme Court rejected Apple’s request for a hearing to consider invalidating two Qualcomm patents that were crucial in 2017 attempts to restrict sales of the Apple Watch, iPad, and iPhone due to allegedly infringing modem technology. The appeal was denied by the court without explanation, but a Justice Department amicus brief from May stated that there was no proof the patents were hurting Apple’s operations.

The arrangement allowed a US Patent and Trademark Office case involving the two patents to proceed even though the firms reached a six-year license agreement to resolve their primary disagreement. Apple failed in its attempt to have the patents declared invalid by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board of the USPTO, and it failed again when the Federal Circuit dismissed Apple’s appeal request based on the settlement. The Justice Department submitted a brief in support of Apple’s opposition to the request when Apple appealed to the Supreme Court.

In its request, Apple asserted that Qualcomm might utilize the patents to file a new lawsuit once the license agreement expires in 2025 or (if extended) 2027. What each firm will do next is uncertain. Apple and Qualcomm have both been contacted for comment. But during the next five years, the environment might undergo major change. It’s not yet apparent how Apple dumping Qualcomm in favor of utilizing its own 5G modems as early as 2023 will effect the present ceasefire.

In 2019, the parties ended their legal dispute by agreeing to a multibillion dollar settlement that permitted Apple to keep utilizing Qualcomm chips in iPhones. Tens of thousands of Qualcomm patents, including the two in question, were also licensed as part of the settlement, which yet permitted the patent board case to proceed.

The board made a decision in Qualcomm’s favor. Last year, the settlement led the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which specializes in patent law, to dismiss Apple’s appeal. Apple claimed that the Federal Circuit should examine the case on the merits because of its royalty payments and fear of being sued again.

Apple informed the Supreme Court that it would still be subject to legal action after the settlement term ended in 2025, or in 2027 if it were to be extended. Apple argued Qualcomm has a “history of aggressively enforcing its patents,” has already filed a lawsuit once, and has “not disclaimed its intention to do so again.”

In its request for the appeal to be dismissed, Qualcomm argued that Apple had not demonstrated a concrete injury sufficient to provide Qualcomm the necessary legal standing. The administration of President Joe Biden urged the Supreme Court to deny the appeal in a brief in May.

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