THE US INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION (ITC) has announced that it will launch an investigation into Apple following allegations from Qualcomm that its devices violate six of its patents.
The move, arguably procedural, means that the ITC will formally investigate Qualcomm's complaint, rather than dismiss it outright.
"The US International Trade Commission has voted to institute an investigation of certain mobile electronic devices and radio frequency and processing components thereof," the ITC said.
"The products at issue in the investigation are mobile electronic devices - such as the iPhone 7, and specific components for such
Qualcomm's complaint alleges that iPhones, which are made in China, should not be allowed to be brought into the United States if they infringe on its patents, and if the chipmaker has its way, the ITC would ban imports and sales of Apple's handsets.
At the heart of the matter is Apple's use of cellular baseband processors made by Intel, with Qualcomm arguing that iPhones Intel's 4G wireless chips are effectively using six Qualcomm patents "unfairly" and "unlawfully".
Unsurprisingly, Qualcomm said it is "pleased" with the ITC's decision to investigate Apple.
"Qualcomm is pleased with the ITC's decision to investigate Apple's unfair trade practices and the unauthorized importation of products using Qualcomm's patents," said Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm.
"We look forward to the ITC's expeditious investigation of Apple's ongoing infringement of our intellectual property and the accelerated relief that the Commission can provide.'"
Apple, when asked for comment, pointed to this prior statement from June: "Qualcomm's illegal business practices are harming Apple and the entire industry.
"They supply us with a single connectivity component, but for years have been demanding a percentage of the total cost of our products - effectively taxing Apple's innovation."
Last month, Intel filed its own statement with the ITC, claiming that Qualcomm's request for the regulatory agency to intervene was "a transparent effort to stave off lawful competition from Qualcomm's only remaining rival." µ
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