PATENT INFRINGEMENT BY APPLE
Author: Ms. Kashish Khurana, School of Law Jagran Lakecity University, Bhopal
What is a patent?
A patent is an official right given to a specific person or a corporation to produce, sell or use a particular product. It is a kind of document that helps you represent the particular right you possess over the invention.
What infringement did apple do and from whom?
Apple is an iPhone manufacturing company that is the world’s first company to gain the highest market cap of $1 trillion. It is often said that more fame brings destruction along. The same is the case with Apple.
Apple has been charged with three patent infringement and leaking confidential information and trade secrets of a multinational semiconductor and telecommunication equipment company named Qualcomm. After which back to back lawsuits were filed by the company on Apple. These lawsuits
It all started with a lawsuit filed by the apple against the multinational company Qualcomm for charging a high fee to use its patents and the modems. This is because Qualcomm is the most dominant supplier of smartphone modems. If any manufacturer denies paying the license fee, then the company has the power to them off from the usage of modems. Not only Apple, but various regulators around the globe have the same complaint against Qualcomm which includes, US, South Korea, China, Taiwan, and the EU. Qualcomm has paid $975 million to settle an investigation in China, $835 million for violation of antitrust laws in South Korea and $93 million over a dispute in antitrust laws in Taiwan. 
In 2017, Apple filed a lawsuit against the multinational company in the US, UK, and China for charging disproportionate fees from smartphone manufacturing companies. It is also alleged by Apple that the manufacturing companies are also forced to license their patent in addition to buying its hardware. Apple claims this to be relentless extortion.
Apple proves his statement by the fact that when in 2011, Apple asked the company to refund a proportionate of Apple’s royalty payment, the company said they will only refund if Apple agrees to use their modems in iPhones. As Apple had no choice, they agreed to the company and the used the first modem in iPhone 4.
INFRINGEMENT BY APPLE
Qualcomm has filed a lawsuit against Apple for the infringement of three of its patents. The iPhone company was tried at San Diego where Qualcomm argued that Apple should be fined to the tune of $1.41 for the infringement. That was just a small part of $7.50 per iPhone that is to be paid by Apple. Furthermore, it totally depended upon the judges of the court to analyze the value of the patent infringed by Apple. However, it is a hefty amount of money for Apple to pay for the infringement.
The suit at the initial stage only spoke about the infringement of the patent. Later, it was discovered that Apple was also alleged of sharing some sort of confidential information and secrets to its rival Intel, which was used to improve Intel’s chips. It was told by the Qualcomm that when Apple joined them as a customer, a master software agreement was signed by them.
It was later requested on the part of Qualcomm that both the accusation against Apple should be heard and seceded together.
COURTS DECISIONS ON INFRINGEMENT
In December 2018, a Chinese court issued a preliminary injunction against Apple selling iPhones that infringed Qualcomm’s patent. The action has been taken as a result of Qualcomm’s claims that technology found in the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X infringes on two of Qualcomm’s patents. A week later, a German court issued an injunction against Apple selling iPhones in the country that infringed Qualcomm’s patents. Then in March 2019, a jury in the United States found Apple liable for infringing Qualcomm’s patents and awarded Qualcomm $31 million in damages.
Although Apple was fined for the infringement of Qualcomm’s patents, no conviction has been declared on the point represented by the company of selling the confidential information and data to Intel. Qualcomm in their arguments has tried to convince the court but was unsuccessful in a lack of proper evidence. The only point to which they indicated was the discussion between the engineers of Apple and Intel, which was found during an investigation.
- The fine charged by the courts on Apple is a bigger message for everyone. It has proved that no crime is smaller.
- Patent infringement is not acceptable, who does it, does not matter
- Apple was the first company to reach the market cap of $1 trillion and has over $2 billion in cash. It was the biggest spot on their name as well.
- The point that has come into the light of Qualcomm forcing other manufacturers to license their patents and purchase hardware from the company. The fact is not at all acceptable. But, the company also has paid the cost for the same.
- The suit filed by the company was not the first legal fight between them. It was a result of continuous conflicts between the companies which lead to a bigger fight.
- The decision of different countries has moreover set an example for others to not to do the same mistake.
In my opinion, the patent infringement by Apple was not at all justified and the results were out as per their deeds. The iphone company not only paid a huge amount of money but also has reduced their sale as their iPhones have been banned partially. The court was justified in their decisions which brought awareness among the people. Different courts have set an example that intellectual property rights also have importance and can be enforced to such an extent.
Moreover, the multinational company was also not justified on their part by forcing the manufacturing companies to purchase the hardware. But, as it is the most dominant company, manufacturers had no choice or would have lost the modem connection.
Only one message can arrive from these things, one should never infringe others right, may it be any right.