Since then, the landscape of the situation has changed quite a bit. Apple released a software update to address patent complaints in China. However, in Germany, Apple was hit with a sales ban of select models. Apple may already be working to address those issues, even on the hardware level. But the original complaint by Qualcomm against Apple is on even weaker footing in 2019.
FOSSpatents has a detailed write-up of what’s going on with that complaint, and it shows that Apple has already started to come out on top. Specifically, with the release of iOS 12.1, Apple says that it has implemented a workaround to a key patent complaint. The company says a specific patent covers “power saving techniques in computing devices”, and that it has implemented workarounds to avoid infringing that patent. (Apple does also attest that the original implementation didn’t infringe on Qualcomm’s patent, either, but the changes were made anyway.)
Apple is currently asking the court for six months. That way it can be fully determined that it is no longer infringing on the patents in devices running iOS 12.1 or newer.
“Apple asks the ITC for six months just so there’s enough time for an official determination of non-infringement in all iOS versions since 12.1. Otherwise there would be a risk of customs officers mistakenly seizing non-infringing iPhones at the border.”
There’s no way that Qualcomm could credibly dispute Apple’s workaround theory: Qualcomm’s own CTO blessed this approach beforehand. Now it’s too late. No government agency or judge is going to be persuaded by an after-the-fact about-face on Qualcomm’s part. The workaround is in place, so even if Qualcomm obtained an import ban, it would be absolutely ineffectual.”
At this point, Qualcomm has already dropped three patents from the initial six in its complaint. A court has ruled that Apple does not infringe on another two. And it appears that the workaround Apple implemented in iOS 12.1 covers the last one. So even if Qualcomm does win this initial court battle, which will kick off in April, it does not look like it will cover 12.1+ iPhones.
That’s a big win for Apple.
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