Qualcomm patents found invalid in a court dispute with Apple might be resurrected.
A few years ago, a dispute over patents and licenses erupted between Apple and Qualcomm, resulting in a multi-year court struggle. The case was finally resolved out of court in 2019, but Qualcomm now has the opportunity to reclaim some lost ground.
Apple filed a patent challenge, citing prior art and asking the Patent Trial and Appeal Board to declare the patent invalid (back in 2018). In 2020, the board voted in favor of Apple.
Qualcomm has challenged that ruling, and the board has agreed to do a revisit of the case, so the patent may be ruled valid once again.
According to court filings, Apple will continue to use Qualcomm modems in its iPhones until 2023. According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will move to in-house 5G modems “at the earliest” 2023. Depending on the outcome of the appeal, these modems may still be subject to Qualcomm licensing.
Apple’s issue, which prompted the case in the first place, was that Qualcomm was charging it for both modem chips and licensing for the patents they employ, a practice known as “double-dipping.”
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