Law Office of Henry B. LaTorraca Civil Trial Attorney

Settlement hopes dashed in Apple-Qualcomm legal dispute

The long-running legal dispute between Apple and Qualcomm is not likely to be settled anytime soon according to business and financial analysts. The two California-based companies are embroiled in contentious litigation over royalty fees, and hopes for an amicable resolution were dashed on July 7 when Qualcomm escalated the dispute by filing patent infringement complaints against Apple with the United States International Trade Commission and in a federal district court.

Qualcomm claims that technology Apple uses to build its ubiquitous iPhone infringes on six of its patents, and it has asked the ITC to halt imports of the popular smartphone and issue a cease-and-desist order to prevent iPhones already in the country from being sold until the dispute is resolved. Apple responded to the legal development by releasing a statement accusing Qualcomm of trying to profit from technology it played no role in developing. Apple also accused Qualcomm of acting unreasonably during settlement talks.

The news of this round of allegations has prepared investors for a long and grueling battle. The iPhone is a crucial product for Apple, and any legal challenge to its dominating market position is likely to be taken extremely seriously by the company. One analyst said that it will likely be 12 to 18 months before the ITC makes a decision on the matter, and Apple could prevail even if the quasi-judicial federal agency rules against it. Apple was involved in a similar dispute with Samsung in 2013. Samsung made powerful arguments in that case that swayed the ITC, but President Obama stepped in to veto the ruling.

The dispute between Qualcomm and Apple shows how protracted and costly intellectual property lawsuits can be. Attorneys with experience in this type of business litigation may urge their clients to seek amicable resolutions to these disputes whenever possible, but they could also advocate in court when settlements cannot be reached.

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