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Apple Takes Another Hit as Qualcomm’s Push for iPhone Bans Moves Forward

January 4, 2019, 11:40 AM UTC

The U.S. is always laying into China over rampant intellectual property infringement, so the members of the China Anti-Infringement and Anti-Counterfeit Innovation Strategic Alliance must be enjoying kicking Apple over its alleged infringement of Qualcomm patents.

The four-year-old Alliance, which counts among its members the likes of e-commerce giant Alibaba and phonemaker Xiaomi, demanded Thursday that Apple immediately comply with a December court order that told it to stop selling seven older iPhone models.

The Alliance is a non-governmental trade body, so it doesn’t appear to have any authority in this regard, but it said in a statement that the Chinese courts should impose “a fine or detention to force Apple Inc. to perform this order in accordance with the law.”

Qualcomm itself has also demanded that Apple stop selling the affected, older models, but Apple has claimed that recent software updates to the devices means they are no longer infringing on the relevant patents.

Meanwhile, in Germany chipmaker Qualcomm has now payed the €1.34 billion ($1.53 billion) bond that it needed to pay in order to start enforcing a similar ban, also issued in December, on the sale of iPhones 7 and 8. Apple still intends to appeal that ban, so the bond is needed to compensate Apple for lost sales, should it win that appeal.

Apple has already complied with the Munich court’s demand that it stop selling the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models directly in Germany—its website now only offers more recent models such as the Xr and Xs—but the older models are still available through other retailers such as Saturn. Qualcomm reminded the world in a Thursday statement that the court also “ordered Apple to recall the infringing iPhones from third party resellers in Germany.”

The German case is about Qualcomm patents relating to its power saving technology. In China, app-switching and photo-resizing patents are at the core of the dispute. The latter case is particularly sensitive, given that falling Apple sales in China were cited as a central reason for Apple’s market-roiling downward revision of its revenue forecasts.

Apple had not responded to a request for comment on the latest developments in the Chinese and German cases at the time of writing.