Lawyers say Qualcomm’s Chinese injunction attempt against the iPhone likely doomed to failure

The long, drawn-out legal fight between Apple and Qualcomm took a sharp turn last week when the chipmaker tried to get an injunction on iPhones being manufactured in China.

But while that might sound like big news, given that it would effectively halt most worldwide production of the device, lawyers in China say there are three reasons why there is little chance of Qualcomm succeeding …

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Reuters reports on legal opinions being expressed by those following the case in China.

First, they say, Apple will likely hit back with an antitrust case against Qualcomm in China, in addition to the ones it has filed elsewhere.

Second, the hundreds of thousands of Chinese jobs dependant on iPhone production give Chinese authorities good reason to deny the request.

Finally, even if the injunction were to eventually succeed, there are a number of legal steps Apple could take to delay it to the point where it becomes irrelevant.

The iPhone maker could also seek to have the patent cases held up by the Beijing IP court while the patent invalidation decision was being made. The cases would then go through a series of hearings at the Beijing court before any injunction.

By the time any injunction were granted, Apple would have been able to ensure that it was no longer using any of the Qualcomm technology in its current devices.

All the same, lawyers say, China can be unpredictable. They point to a very short-lived ban on the sale of the iPhone 6/Plus in a bizarre ruling, and suggest that Qualcomm is likely using uncertainty as a weapon, seeing leverage in out-of-court negotiations.

Qualcomm may be looking to frustrate the tech giant through a lengthy legal fight that could last years in China as it seeks to gain leverage in the firms’ global standoff over royalty payments it demands, intellectual property lawyers said.

Apple’s soon-to-be-retiring top lawyer Bruce Sewell recently said that Qualcomm charges Apple around $18 for a chip used in its iOS devices, but then levies a licensing fee of 5% of the iPhone’s sale price, a practice the company has described as ‘double-dipping.’

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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